A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 28, 2012
VIP (Very Important Person)

The initials “VIP” stand for “very important person/personage/people.” The “VIP” definitions of “very important personage” and “very important person” have been cited in print in British publications since at least 1933.

In the United States, “VIP” was described in 1943 as “army slang for Very Important People.” The term “VIP” has been used in the military, in politics and in business, usually to indicate a person or people who require special treatment and privileges.

A “VIP” has also been called a “mover and shaker,” a term used in an 1873 poem but in popular usage from the 1950s.


Wiktionary: very important person
Etymology
The term was coined between 1940(1935 ?) and 1945, likely by the Royal Air Force. A transliteration of В.И.П., the Russian abbreviation of вecмa имeнитaя пepcoнa (transliterated as “vesima imenitaya persona").
Noun
very important person
(plural very important persons)
1.A person who is accorded special privileges due to his or her status or importance. Examples include celebrities, heads of state, high rollers, politicians, high-level corporate officers, wealthy individuals, or any other person who receives special treatment for some reason. In some cases, such as tickets to events, VIP may be used in a similar way to premium, and can be purchased by anyone.
Derived terms
. VIP, V.I.P. ("very important person")
. VVIP, V.V.I.P. ("very, very important person")

Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
VIP noun \ˌvē-ˌī-ˈpē\
plural VIPs
Definition of VIP
: a person of great influence or prestige; especially: a high official with special privileges
Origin of VIP
very important person
First Known Use: 1933

(Oxford English Dictionary)
V.I.P. | VIP, n.
An abbrev. < the initial letters of ‘very important person’, esp. a high-ranking guest. Freq. Mil. slang in early use.
1933 C. Mackenzie Water on Brain viii. 111 ‘At the moment he has a V.I.P. with him’.‥ Miss Glidden seemed to divine his perplexity, for‥she turned round and whispered through a pursed up mouth, ‘Very Important Personage’.
1945 Daily Mirror 11 Aug. 5/4 Then they started pouring buckets of water on the crowds below‥until a very important person happened along. The VIP got a bucketful all to himself.‥ The VIP was a brigadier.
1946 E. Waugh Diary 31 Mar. (1976) vi. 645, I found I had been categorized VIP—Very Important Person. It seemed odd to be asked ‘Are you a VIP?’

Google Books
Where India, China and Burma Meet
By Sitaram Johri
Calcutta: Thacker Spink
1933
Pg. XIII:
Very Important Person VIP

Google Books
The Windsor Magazine: an illustrated monthly for men and women
Volume 79
1934
Pg. 332: 
Something of the kind was explained to the Very Important Personage, whilst he had his bath, at Government House on the evening of his arrival. “You can’t surprise me,” said the V.I.P., splashing noisily.

16 December 1943, Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, pg. 11, col. 1:
Secrecy Veiled Preparations
For 11 Planes Carrying F. D. R.,
Party Of 250 To War Conferences

AN EAST COAST AIR BASE, Sec. 16—When President Roosevelt flies to far places, to meet the heads of Allied nationa and armies, plans are made in such secrecy that the flight is referred to only by a secret code designation.

Yet obviously there are people outside the councils of the mighty who have to know. Flight crews may not be told anything more than that they are to carry “VIP”—which is army slang for Very Important People.

6 February 1944, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Plane Hitch-Kining Sure-Fire Way to Adventure, Says Rita” by Rita Hume, pg. 7, col. 2:
When bad weather or an overload of V.I.P.’s (very important persons) with high priorities causes a jam on the regular courier service, the thing to do is to head out to the base operations office and thumb your way.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, April 28, 2012 • Permalink