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Jeep is an automobile marque (and registered trademark) of Chrysler. It is the oldest off-road vehicle (also sport utility vehicle – SUV) brand, with Land Rover coming in second. The original vehicle which first appeared as the prototype Bantam BRC became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the US Army and allies during the World War II and postwar period. Many vehicles serving similar military and civilian roles have since been created by many nations. Jeeps were also used by the U.S. Postal Service in the 20th century for mail services.

There are many explanations of the origin of the word "jeep," all of which have proven difficult to verify. Probably the most popular notion holds that the vehicle bore the designation "GP" (for "Government Purposes" or "General Purpose"), which was phonetically slurred into the word jeep. However, 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 (2,000 mm) wheelbase). "GP" does appear in connection with the vehicle in the TM 9-803 manual, which describes the vehicle as a machine, and the vehicle is designated a "GP" in TM 9-2800, Standard Motor Vehicles, September 1, 1949, but whether the average jeep-driving GI would have been familiar with either of these manuals is open to debate.

Many, including Ermey, suggest that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicles that they informally named it after Eugene the Jeep, a character in the Popeye cartoons that "could go anywhere."

Words of the Fighting Forces by Clinton A. Sanders, a dictionary of military slang, published in 1942, in the library at The Pentagon gives this definition:

Jeep: A four-wheel drive vehicle of one-half- to one-and-one-half-ton capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the bantam-cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the ½-ton command vehicle. Also referred to as "any small plane, helicopter, or gadget."
This definition is supported by the use of the term "jeep carrier" to refer to the Navy's small escort carriers.

Early in 1941, Willys-Overland demonstrated the vehicle's off-road capability by having it drive up the steps of the United States Capitol, driven by Willy's test driver Irving "Red" Haussman, who had recently heard soldiers at Fort Holabird calling it a "jeep." When asked by syndicated columnist Katherine Hillyer for the Washington Daily News (or by a bystander, according to another account) what it was called, Irving answered, "It's a jeep."

Katherine Hillyer's article was published nationally on February 20, 1941, and included a picture of the vehicle with the caption:

LAWMAKERS TAKE A RIDE- With Senator Meade, of New York, at the wheel, and Representative Thomas, of New Jersey, sitting beside him, one of the Army's new scout cars, known as "jeeps" or "quads", climbs up the Capitol steps in a demonstration yesterday. Soldiers in the rear seat for gunners were unperturbed.
This exposure caused all other jeep references to fade, leaving the 4x4 truck with the name.

Willys-Overland Inc. was later awarded the sole privilege of owning the name "Jeep" as registered trademark.

The term was also in military slang use to mean something untried, or untested.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep) www.jeep.com