G.I. is a noun used to describe members of the United States Army and items of their equipment. The term is now used as an initialism of "Government Issue" (or often "General Infantry"), but originally referred to galvanized iron.
The letters "G.I." were used to denote equipment made from galvanized iron, such as metal trash cans, in U.S. Army inventories and supply records. During World War I, U.S. soldiers sardonically referred to incoming German artillery shells as "G.I. cans". In that same war, "G.I." started being interpreted as "Government Issue", and it was used as an adjective for anything having to do with the Army. During World War II, "G.I. Joe" became a nickname for American soldiers. Dwight D. Eisenhower stated in 1945, for example, that "the truly heroic figure of this war [is] G.I. Joe and his counterpart in the air, the navy, and the merchant marine of every one of the United Nations."
GI also is used as a verb in military circles, and describes a deep-cleaning process of an area or item to meet higher-than-normal standards. Armed Services trainees, for example, could be ordered to "GI" a garbage can to the point that anyone could safely eat from its surface.
See also 
- Dogface (military)
- G.I. Bill
- G.I. Blues
- G.I. Generation
- G.I. Jane
- G.I. Joe
- Folk etymology
- Intti (a similar slang term used in the Finnish Army)
- Rawson, Hugh (April/May 2006). "Why do we say “G.I.”?" 57 (2). American Heritage. Archived from the original on 29 August 2008.
- Wilton, Dave (2 February 2009). "G.I. - Wordorigins.org". Wordorigins.org.
- "GI – Definitions from Dictionary.com". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc.
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. (10 May 1945). Funeral Pyres of Nazidom. Universal Newsreel. http://archive.org/details/1945-05-10_Funeral_Pyres_of_Nazidom.
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