|Meaning:||a small sturdy 4x4 vehicle|
|Related Names:||Chrysler (company), Ford, Dodge|
The Jeep, in form and in name, was born in the U.S. military. The military has a habit of shortening names of vehicles, weapons and places to acronyms, and then pronouncing the acronym as though it were one word. Why say the four syllable "General Purpose" when you can shorten it to "GP"? And why say the two syllable "GP" when you can shorten it to the one syllable name Geep, or Jeep. This is exactly how the name Jeep was born, although there is some dispute over what GP stood for. It may have stood for "General Purpose," since the original vehicle known to the military as a Jeep was a rugged all-purpose vehicle used during World War II. But many sources disagree with this etymology. A more verifiable history is in the Ford GP Truck, a hardy 1/4 ton 4x4 designed by Ford for the U.S. military in 1941. The GP in the name did not stand for General Purpose. The "G" stood for "Government," and the "P" indicated the 80 inch wheelbase. While the Oxford English Dictionary lists the etymology as stemming from "General Purpose," it also cites the first usage as occurring in 1941, which supports the second theory. The GP may also have come from the name Government Pygmy Willys, with Willys-Overland being one of the manufacturers, along with Ford and Bantam, who made the military Jeeps.
But then what of the claims that the term Jeep had been around since the first World War? Well, the term had been around, but it had a completely different meaning. During World War I, the term Jeep was military slang for a new recruit, and usage of the term spread out to include new vehicles. Thus, when a new vehicle arrived for testing, the shop mechanics would refer to it as a Jeep. The exact origin of this term is unclear.
But a few years before the Ford GP went into production, the name Jeep already had another meaning in the Civilian world. In 1936, a new character was introduced to the popular comic strip Popeye, and his name was Eugene the Jeep. Eugene the Jeep was a small dog-like creature who could only say the word "Jeep." This character helped the other Popeye characters by solving problems, and was always honest and dependable. Bud Sagendorf, one of the creators of the Popeye comic strip, has said that E.C. Segar came up with the name while brainstorming a new name for the character, and the name Jeep was unanimously picked from the list of names. Sagendorf claims, "We checked English and foreign dictionaries to be sure it wasn't in use, then chose the name once and for all, and added a new word to the language." The character's name slipped into American slang. Just a few years after Jeep was being used by soldiers as a derogatory term for new recruits, Jeep was being used by civilians to indicate something or someone who was honest and capable. While the origin of Eugene the Jeep and the Ford GP were completely separate events, the general knowledge of Eugene the Jeep may have helped the name Jeep stick for the dependable off-road vehicle.
In 1950, the Willys-Overland company registered the name Jeep as a trademark. Jeep production has changed hands several times over the years, each time taking the trademarked name with it. In 1953, Willys-Overland merged with Kaiser Industries, and Jeeps were produced under the Kaiser name until 1970, when the American Motors Corporation bought the company and established the subsidiary known as the Jeep Corporation. In 1987, American Motors was bought by Chrysler, who was bought by Damlier-Benz in 1998, before striking out on their own again in 2007 as Chrysler LLC. The Jeep line is currently owned by Chrysler, a company which is considered one of the Big Three American Automakers.
- There are two high schools in the United States with the mascot of the The Fighting Jeeps, named after Eugene the Jeep from the Popeye comics: Northeast Dubois High School in Indiana and South Webster High School in Ohio.
- In the early days of the military Jeep, the vehicle had other nicknames, such as Peep, Bug, Puddle Jumper, Midget, Pygmy, Leapin' Lena and Blitz Buggy.
The following vehicles are currently part of the Jeep brand:
- Jeep Commander: a 7-seater SUV
- Jeep Compass: a 5-seater midsize SUV
- Jeep Grand Cherokee: a midsize SUV
- Jeep Liberty: a midsize SUV
- Jeep Patriot: a midsize SUV
- Jeep Wrangler: a small off-road SUV
- Jeep Wrangler Unlimited: midsize off-road SUV
Author: Sarena Ulibarri
|Meaning||a small sturdy 4x4 vehicle +|
|Meaningnc||a small sturdy 4x4 vehicle +|
|Rank in 2000s||0 +|
|Related||Chrysler (company) +, Ford +, and Dodge +|