GI (military)

GI (military)

For other uses of GI, see GI

GI or G.I. is a term describing members of the U.S. armed forces or items of their equipment. It may be used as an adjective or as a noun. The term is often thought to be an initialism of "Government Issue" or "General Infantry" but the origin of the term is in fact galvanized iron after the letters "G.I." that used to denote equipment such as metal trash cans made from it in U.S. Army inventories and supply records. During World War I, U.S. soldiers sardonically referred to incoming German artillery shells as "GI cans"; it was assumed that "GI" stood for "Government Issue". The term was later applied to all military equipment, then to the soldiers themselves (another incorrect interpretation is "General Infantry").

The term reached its zenith with the deployment of American troops during World War II. However, the term G.I. was always used much more by civilians and the media than it was by Army soldiers themselves. By the time of the Korean War, the term was largely restricted to use by the press; war correspondents in particular.

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