“Leatherneck” to describe Marines
Where does the term Leatherneck come from?
From 1798 until 1872 Marines wore a uniform that contained a neck piece made of leather. This stiff leather collar, called “The Stock”, was about 3 1/2 inches high and served two purposes.
1) It served as protection to the neck and critical veins during battle (though in most battle situations this uniform accessory was not practical for wear because it prevented free movement of the neck).
2)It held a Marine’s neck erect while on parade, giving him a great military bearing by forcing the wearer to hold his chin high. Major General George F. Elliot, a Marine of the Spanish American War era, is quoted as saying the wearers looked “like
geese looking for rain”.
Most likely origin of the term Leathernecks stems from the Marines participation in the Barbary Wars. When boarding the ships of hostile pirates, Marines were given added protection against cutlass slashes from the heavy collar. These actions also coincide with when the leather collar started to be worn “to the shores of Tripoli!”
Regardless of its origin, the name has stuck, and it is an accepted term for Marines today. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it simply as a noun meaning “a member of the United States Marine Corps”
There is some debate that Leatherneck is derogatory when used by civilians. There is also some debate on the exact origin of the term. What do you think?