What does GOP mean?
Clearly a term used in conjunction with the Republican Party, but the three letters don't seem to make sense to many people nowadays. Of course, most people know that they represent the Republicans but what do they stand for?
The Republican National Committee runs their website also under RNC.org, but GOP.com is the major web address.
The party originated in the early 1850's and the first 'convention' was held in 1854. But it was not until the 1870's that the abbreviation was formed. Apparently nobody can exactly pin-point who the original creator was, but according to the Republican Party's website the first official known reference to GOP was made in a Congressional Record in 1875 where the expression 'the gallant old party' was found and a year later, according to Harper's Weekly, in the Cincinnati Commercial where the expression 'Grand Old Party' was used.
It's said that in 1884 the 'Boston Post' titled 'The G.O.P. doomed...' and the 'New York Herald' had picked up the abbreviation in one of their articles.
The Republican Party states that during the presidential race in 1964 against democrat Lyndon B. Johnson (note: Republican opponent was Barry Morris Goldwater) the slogan "The Go-Party" was used to promote the Republicans. Over the years people came up with other meanings for GOP, but since the 1970's the meaning "Grand Old Party" was eventually 'reinstated'.
However, it still remains the question, why somebody (and who) invented GOP seeing that the Democratic Party was formed around 1832 which makes them much 'older'.
An explanation the Republican Party suggests is that the nickname 'Grand Old Man' for the British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone in 1882 could have been the inspiration. Anyhow, this was after 1875/76 when first references to 'gallant old party' or 'grand old party' were reported.
But it might be an explanation for the fact that the abbreviation then became popular and widely used. Between the point-in-time when someting is invented and becomes popular many years can go by.