Military

The origins of this popular nickname are somewhat murky. A popular theory links the term to the early 20th century, when “G.I.” was stamped on military trash cans and buckets. The two-letter abbreviation stood for the material from which these items were made: galvanized iron. Later, the definition of GI broadened and during World War I it was used to refer to all things Army-related, according to “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language” by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. When this happened, GI was reinterpreted as “government issue” or “general issue.”