| The origin of the term jeep
There are many stories about where the name "jeep" came from. The following two reasons for the name "jeep", although they make interesting and memorable stories, aren't quite accurate.
• Probably the most popular notion has it that the vehicle bore the designation "GP" (for "General Purpose"), which was phonetically slurred into the word jeep. R. Lee Ermey, on his television series Mail Call, disputes this, saying that the vehicle was designed for specific duties, was never referred to as "General Purpose," and that the name may have been derived from Ford's nomenclature referring to the vehicle as GP (G for government-use, and P to designate its 80-inch-wheelbase). "General purpose" does appear in connection with the vehicle in the WW2 TM 9-803 manual, which describes the vehicle as "... a general purpose, personnel, or cargo carrier especially adaptable for reconnaisance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton 4x4 Truck", and the vehicle is also designated a "GP" in TM 9-2800, Standard Military Motor Vehicles, 1 September, 1943, but whether the average jeep-driving GI would have been familiar with either of these manuals is open to debate.
• Many, including Ermey, claim that the more likely origin is a reference to a character from the Thimble Theater (Popeye) comic strip known as Eugene the Jeep. Eugene the Jeep was a dog-like character who could walk through walls and ceilings, climb trees, fly, and just about go anywhere it wanted; it is thought that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicle's versatility that they informally named it after the character.
The manuals quoted were published in 1943. The character of "Eugene the Jeep" was created in 1936. The first common use of the term "jeep" predates both of these by roughly 20 years. It was during World War I that soldiers used "jeep" as a slang word for new recruits as well as new, unproven vehicles. This is according to a history of the vehicle for an issue of the U.S. Army magazine, Quartermaster Review,
which was written by Maj. E. P. Hogan. He went on to say that the slang word had these definitions as late as the start of World War II.