The etymology of G-man is a surprising one; its origin is not what most people suppose. You probably think that the word comes from “government man,” with the government in question being the US federal government. If so you are wrong.

The term originally appeared in Ireland in the early 20th century. The G is a reference to the G Division of the Dublin Metropolitan Police; at the time the G Division was the plainclothes detective division that investigated crimes and included a political section that investigated political crimes, especially in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising and during the 1919-22 War of Independence.

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