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Origin of the term \"Jeep\"-kinda long

About a year ago I posted a question to Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope [] regarding the origin of the term "Jeep" as applied to the 4wd vehicle that we all know and love. This guy is a syndicated columnist who answers virtually any whacky question that a person could imagine. Most of his answers to readers' questions are pretty thorough and he apparently has a team that does research and conducts interviews, etc. So, FWIW, here's how he explains the evolution of "Jeep" [I didn't include my question since he totally changed the wording of it]

"I'm not saying I know for certain what the origin of jeep is, but I'm pretty sure I know what it ain't--namely, an elision of GP. (For
one thing, the jeep wasn't general purpose--it was designed for reconnaissance.) What we now call a jeep was actually the last of
several vehicles to bear that nickname. By one account, the name jeep originally was used by motor pool mechanics in World War
I to refer to any new vehicle received for testing. It was also applied derisively to the more hapless recruits. Be that as it may, the
term was little known outside the military until March 16, 1936, when a character called Eugene the Jeep was introduced in Elzie
Segar's popular Thimble Theater comic strip, home of Popeye. Eugene was a doglike critter who subsisted on orchids and had the
ability to travel between dimensions and solve complex problems. The Jeep tickled the public's fancy and his name was soon
applied to a host of things, including an oil exploration vehicle, a prototype of the B-17 bomber, a military tractor, a type of truck,
and so on.

Finally, in 1940, the military commissioned the manufacture of a four-wheel-drive scout car. A test driver for Willys-Overland, one
of the makers of the new vehicle, drove one up the steps of the U.S. Capitol as a publicity stunt in early 1941. When asked by a
reporter what the vehicle was called, the driver, Irving "Red" Haussman, said it was a jeep. The press popularized the term, and
within a short time jeep-as-funny-looking-four-by-four had supplanted all other uses of the name. Just so you know, a version of
the jeep made by Ford did have the letters "GP" in its designation. But the G stood for "government" and the P was a code
indicating an 80-inch wheelbase, not general purpose. In any case the name "jeep" had been around long before, and its origin had
nothing to do with "GP."


'85 CJ7/258

3,412 Posts
Re: Origin of the term \"Jeep\"-kinda long

After the war, Willys wanted to get trademark rights to the name "Jeep". Minneapolis-Moline( the maker of the tractor mentioned in your post), Bantam, who designed and built the first 1/4 ton prototype and Dodge, whose military trucks were nicknamed Jeep prior to the 1/4 ton, all petitioned the government not to grant Willys application. Willys had, by this time, produced and marketed the CJ-2A, to which they gave the Jeep name in their advertisements. The government approved the trademark name and the rest is history./wwwthreads_images/icons/smile.gif
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