What Is “GOP” Short For? Getty WATCH: What Is The Origin Of The Republican Party? Previous Next The Republican party has a lot of history. Its origins are interesting in their own right, but one particular part of the party’s history is its nickname: the GOP. Where did this nickname come from and what in the world does it mean? What does GOP mean? The Republican Party picked up the Grand Old Party label in the 1880s, and that’s where the acronym GOP came from. The homespun nickname actually may have been associated with Democrats originally … but that’s another story. However, one thing that is clear is that it was the product of the purple prose style of newspapers in the 19th century. Some claim that the G originally stood for gallant. A little more Republican Party history Since we’re here, we might as well explore the history of the Republican Party in general. The party was founded in 1854, in fervent opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a Democrat-supported act which would have allowed slavery to expand into new territories. The first Republicans were a coalition of former Whigs and Democrats, pro-business economic modernizers, and northern abolitionists. Their second presidential candidate they ever ran, in 1860, turned out to be a home-run: Abraham Lincoln. You may have heard of him. Lincoln and his early Republicans expanded federal power in ways that are pretty, well, un-Republican today: new federal taxes to fund the creation of a nationalized bank system, a nationalized railroad, high import tariffs, and establishing the state university system.