Ever wonder why the Republican Party is sometimes referred to as the GOP, aside from the fact that it fits better in a newspaper headline? The definition and origin of the term are surprisingly murky.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary simply defines GOP as an abbreviation of "Grand Old Party."
USHistory.org traces its roots to Southern Democrats using the term up until 1888 when the Republican party adopted it. Following a Republican presidential victory, the Chicago Tribune reportedly wrote: "Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party ... these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested."
CBS News wrote an article in 2002 about how the Wall Street Journal was considering dropping the usage of "GOP" because it felt that not enough readers knew what it stood for. CBS points out that GOP did not always stand for "Grand Old Party," but at one time meant "Gallant Old Party" at an earlier date in 1875. It also gained another popular meaning as "Get Out and Push," referring to the proliferation of early automobiles.
Magazine USA confirms the original definition of "Gallant Old Party" in 1875 as stated in a Congressional Record. Reportedly, the abbreviation was then picked up by the Boston Post and New York Herald in 1884. The term was then used as a Republican Party slogan "The Go-Party" in its battle against Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 before being reinstated as "Grand Old Party" in the 1970s.