Talk:G.I. (military)

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Origin of term[edit]

The origin of the use of "G.I." for US servicemembers does not trace back to the phrase "government issue". It actually traces back to "galvanized iron", the initials of which were stamped on trash cans used up through WWII. The phrase moved to a verb as in "to G.I. the barracks" meaning to clean it thoroughly prior to an inspection. From there, it migrated back to an adjective applied to servicemen.

The initials have been mistaken for government issue. This can be demonstrated as a mistake because no other equipment was stamped or marked G.I. This has been extensively discussed and sourced over at the Wiktionary definition of G.I.

As far as I know, the second paragraph of this page is correct. -- Rossami (talk) 17:58 & :59, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Ich glaub's einfach nicht[edit]

Das ist doch unverschämt, dass dort die alten Gis als tin can waste geführt werden - wer denkt sich denn sowas aus? Und wir zitieren das auch noch als Referenz - unglaublich,...meine ich

Belitrix (talk) 18:37, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

The etymology of words is a fascinating topic.
Unglaublich? Nein, ich kann es glauben. Diese Erklärung ist dumm genug, wahr zu sein.
Varlaam (talk) 06:50, 7 June 2012 (UTC) (Kanada)

General Infantry?[edit]

From all I've ever heard, GI stands for general infantry.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:54, 15 June 2006

I'm pretty sure I wasn't playing with Government-Issue-Joe Action Figures as a child.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:32, 29 July 2006‎

No, but I bet you didn't play with General-Infantry-Joes either. You DID play with G.I. Joes, though, and that stands approximately for your everyday soldier of the era, be him Government Issued or just General Infantry. Dabizi — Preceding undated comment added 02:42, 21 September 2006‎

--- I always thought G.I. meant Ground Infantry. You know, as opposed to SEAman and AIRmen. Funny to know that it isn't so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:58, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

Airmen? You mean aviators? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mr. Choco Rain (talkcontribs) 23:20, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

"Aviators are the men and women who actually FLY and Guide the aircraft", i.e. pilots and navigators. "Airmen", whether they are enlisted men or officers, include aerial gunners, flight engineers, bombardiers, radio and radar operators, loadmasters, electronics countermeasures operators, and those men in cargo planes who just supply the muscle for handling the cargo. Also, the boom operators in aerial tankers are airmen. Why is it that you do not know the difference between actual aviators and those who are/were support personell on board aircraft. Even in the film Top Gun, the pilots and the weapons system / radar officers were refered to as "Naval Aviators". Like I mentioned before, gunners, etc., are not aviators, but they are airmen. (talk) 03:45, 2 October 2013 (UTC)


'In the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, government issue still holds its original meaning as clothing, rations, weapons, furniture, office supplies and other equipment provided as standard to military personnel or civil servants. It may also be used as derogative slang, as in "I have a government issue wristwatch", meaning that there is nothing remarkable about the wristwatch.'

There is simply no evidence of this phrase being used as slang in the UK. While it may be used in the Armed forces to suggest an item is overtly generic, this does not amount to UK slang.
— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:19, 5 July 2006

   FWIW, the single-quoted passage seems to arise from the 15:41, 15 December 2005 edit of a registered editor.
--Jerzyt 17:51, 2 September 2014 (UTC)


I didn't think that zenith was very good word choice so i changed it to apex. My main reason being that its not a very known word for what is probably such a popular article.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:56:25 & :47, 17 January 2009

Only a Few Sentences & 100's of Contributions[edit]

Why does this tiny meaningless article have so many edits listed in its "history?" It is absolutely amazing for something that only consists of a few sentences... Does that suggest something about the military? Stevenmitchell (talk) 09:33, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

A lot of people think they know that G.I. stands for "government issue" (which is incorrect) so there has been a lot of reverting going on. --Sus scrofa (talk) 09:43, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
   A single-contrib IP colleague made (months after the preceding 2009 contribs, but prior to the 2010 response to them which follows on this page) a roughly 50-word talk contribution. Like many more experienced contributors, they left us to puzzle out their choice of location... (esp'ly so in light of failing to indent it: single-indent would have strongly suggested a response to the first contrib of the section, and double-indent, by the same token, a response to the 2nd contrib). The content suggests it is an off-topic response to the mention, above in this talk section, of the "G-for-government, I-for-issue" theory.
   I'm taking the liberty (or extending the courtesy) of starting a new section for that changed topic, as a sub-section of the current section of this talk page.
--Jerzyt 03:01, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
In part, yes. In larger part, this page will always remain trivial because Wikipedia is not a dictionary and this page has never managed to identify any non-lexical content that goes beyond the bare bones that are already better presented in Wiktionary. For a long time, this page (or its predecessors - it's been moved several times) was a soft-redirect to the Wiktionary definition. Then some folks added legitimate disambiguation listings. Then the dictionary definition got added back and all attempts to revert were rather viciously attacked. Given the massive confusion about WP:WINAD, however, I see little hope of resolution. Rossami (talk) 00:17, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

General-issue soldiers? Continuing a somewhat cryptically submitted, apparently off-topic response to the above "Only a Few Sentences ..." discussion[edit]

According to [article]: "No wonder American combat troops in those years started calling themselves "G.I. Joe." Reporters passed the term back home as a charming bit of sentimentality; they didn't know, or chose to ignore, that it was really a despairing joke - "G.I." for "general issue," a mass-produced unit of basic military hardware." It's quite obvious, and could be included? -- (talk) 05:15, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

   Even much more experienced editors shoot themselves in the foot (you should excuse the expression) like that; the colleague who simply shoved the off-topic material (off-topic to this section, tho not IMO to this talk page) further down in the section was, IMO entirely reasonably, getting on with the work at hand.
   Still, for my own satisfaction (and not to suggest anyone should already have done so), and perhaps not entirely in vain, i now restate, IMO more clearly, what the IP (77.17....) probably had in mind:
   In the (enclosing) section above, a colleague rejected the "G-for-government, I-for-issue" theory. This link [unlike the preceding ip editor's link to an error-msg] goes straight to a live Web-page: a long (for me, about 60 screens) first-person essay "Losing the War". (The 'graph the IP quotes above can be quickly found, in its context, by searching for "charming bit" within the external-link page; it lies near the middle of the essay.)
   I offer no opinion about the proposed "G-for-general, I-for-issue" theory, except that the essay is neither proof of it, nor evidence in favor of it, even if it turns out to be a lead toward finding such evidence.
   I do indulge myself by making the observation that every war is one hell of a big place (WWII especially so), and that even being there is insufficient to make anything but death and taxes "obvious". OTOH, IMO, it's credible and makes it seem worthwhile to seek reliable sources that agree.
--Jerzyt 03:01, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Officers too?[edit]

I think a GI has to be an enlisted man, a long-suffering Willie and Joe-type enlisted man.
Can an officer be a GI?
Varlaam (talk) 06:32, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

The term dates from WW II. The US Army has always been among the most egalitarian in the world and was even more so during that period. The distinction between an enlisted man and a junior officer was not all that great. So, yes, officers were sometimes lumped in as "G.I.s". Rossami (talk) 13:08, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Good, there's my answer.
But let's not overstate the egalitarianism of the segregated US forces.
It was the Pennsylvania Guard's cosy nepotistic old boys network that made them a target for attack in 1944, eh.
Varlaam (talk) 19:24, 7 June 2012 (UTC)
"Most" is still a relative term. And you are right that there are always exceptions. Rossami (talk)
"Pennsylvania guards cozy nepotistic old boys network"  what does that mean?  I'm from PA so I'm curious to know. Solri89 (talk) 22:03, 19 March 2016 (UTC)


When did the term "troop" become acceptable to refer to an individual soldier? I think it was during Desert Storm that I became aware of, and confused by the term. A troop should refer to a unit of GI's. Flight Risk (talk) 18:52, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

It's a common bit of slang or short form for "trooper". Not in any dictionary as such. Since we don't have WP:RS (that I can find with my very short search), we should not add it to the article. – S. Rich (talk) 19:21, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

I seem to remember tents being called GI as well.[edit]

As in GI Big/ GI Little. I've always assumed that meant government issue. Or was that just slang also? Solri89 (talk) 22:08, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

You're thinking of "GP Large" Medium and Small. GP being "General Purpose". See for more. – S. Rich (talk) 02:29, 20 March 2016 (UTC)

Oh he'll you're right! It's been a few decades. Thank you my friend! Solri89 (talk) 22:48, 20 March 2016 (UTC)