Encyclopedia - Doughboys

Gladys McIntyre, Salvation Army serving doughnuts to US 26th Division troops, Ansauvillers, 9 Apr 1918 No-one seems quite clear as to the origin of the term 'doughboy', although there is one theory which generally predominates.

As a means of addressing infantrymen the term appears to date back to around 1865 and gained widespread use during World War One and - albeit to a lesser extent - World War Two.

The name itself - doughboy - dated even further back, to the 1600s, and represented boiled flour dumplings; to many Americans it simply meant a doughnut in the present-day sense.  During the U.S. Civil War the name was allegedly applied to infantrymen whose uniform bore large globular buttons.  This is perhaps the most widely accepted version.

An alternative explanation is based upon the Mexican War of 1846-47 when U.S. infantrymen were billeted in huts comprised of adobe.  Then again a third theory relates to infantry uniforms.  In order to whiten the trimmings of their uniforms men would use pipe-clay which, when newly exposed to the rain, would sometimes run - and so looked like raw dough.

A "blimp" was a word applied to an observation balloon.

- Did you know?

A to Z