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US election word of the week: the GOP

 © PhotoDiscIn this series we are looking at some of the language and terminology associated with the US electoral process in the run-up to the Presidential election in late 2016. This week’s word is the GOP.

The GOP, pronounced by saying the individual letters, is a familiar name for the US Republican Party. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the origin of the term:



The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as “this gallant old party”; the following year in an article in the Cincinnati Commercial, the term was modified to “grand old party”. The first use of the abbreviation is dated 1884.

It seems unfair that the Democratic Party doesn’t have a similarly catchy (and flattering) nickname, but that’s life.

Each party is commonly associated with an animal, an elephant in the case of the Republicans while the Democrats rejoice in a donkey or jackass (perhaps originally a pun on the name of Democratic President Andrew Jackson). Other symbols for the parties have included the bald eagle (Republicans) and the rooster (Democrats).

Each party is also associated with a particular colour, but that’s a topic for a future post.

Look out for the next post in this series. You can find past posts on the language of American politics here and here, or search for other posts in this series using the tag US politics.

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Liz Potter

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