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Wartime era portrait of a typical American doughboy, circa: 1918.

Doughboy is an informal term for an American soldier, especially members of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. The term dates back to the Mexican–American War of 1846–48.

The term was used sparingly during World War II, gradually replaced by "G.I.". It was still used in popular songs of the day, as in the 1942 song "Johnny Doughboy found a Rose in Ireland."[1] It dropped out of popular use soon after World War II.[2]



The origins of the term are unclear. It was in use as early as the 1840s.[3][4]

An often cited explanation is that the term first came about during the Mexican–American War, after observers noticed U.S. infantry forces were constantly covered with chalky dust from marching through the dry terrain of northern Mexico, giving the men the appearance of unbaked dough.[5] Another suggestion also arises from the Mexican–American War, and the dust-covered infantry men resembled the commonly used mud bricks of the area known as adobes.[5] Another suggestion is that doughboys were so named because of their method of cooking field rations of the 1840s and 1850s, usually doughy flour and rice concoctions baked in the ashes of a camp fire, although this does not explain why only infantryman received the appellation.[5]

An American doughboy (right) receives an award from King George V.

See also


  1. ^ In 1942 two infantry soldiers wrote The Dogface Soldier, later officially adopted as the song of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division. The Dogface Soldier
  2. ^ George, John B. (Lt. Col), Shots Fired In Anger, Samworth Press (1948), pp. xi, xii, 21: Lt. John George, an Army officer writing a World War II autobiographical postwar combat memoir in May 1947, freely used the term to describe himself and his fellow U.S. Army infantrymen.
  3. ^ Dana, Napoleon Jackson Tecumseh (Lt), Monterrey Is Ours! The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant N.J.T. Dana, 1845-1847, University of Kentucky Press (1990), ISBN 0-8131-1703-8, ISBN 978-0-8131-1703-4: Lt. Dana, an infantryman in the Mexican-American War, wrote in a letter posted during the campaign, "We 'doughboys' had to wait for the artillery to get their carriages over."
  4. ^ Chamberlain, Samuel, My Confessions: Recollections of a Rogue, Austin: Texas State Historical Association (1965): Chamberlain, a horse-mounted Dragoon in the Mexican-American War, wrote in his memoirs years later, "No man of any spirit and ambition would join the 'Doughboys' and go afoot."
  5. ^ a b c Hanlon, Michael E., The Origins of Doughboy, 16 June 2003, Origin of Term Doughboy

Further reading

External links