Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Military organizations, like nearly all large exclusive organizations, develop slang as means of self-identification.
Military slang is also used to reinforce the (usually friendly) interservice rivalries. Some of these terms have been considered derogatory to varying degrees and attempts were made to eliminate them. Those attempts have failed because many service members take a certain perverse pleasure in the sense of shared hardship which the nickname implies.
Military slang has often been incorporated into wider usage. See also: List of U.S. Army acronyms and expressions , American English, British English. For British Army slang see the Forces Dictionary on http://www.biscuitsbrown.com. For Covey Crump see the Navy Slang sub-section under the Naval Life section on the Royal Navy website http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk.
Military slang includes phrases such as:
- (UK and US) Derogatory term for a pilot or aircrew.
- Area of Operations; e.g., "if that broad comes into my A.O. there's going to be trouble!"
- A spirited cry meaning "affirmative" or "I am ready"; chiefly used by US Army Rangers .
- (US) Disreputable or shabby. Probably from the appearance of a chew toy.
- beans and bullets
- (US) The general term for all types of supplies.
- (US) Slang for a Airplane.
- a submarine; also what aviators call all ships.
- (UK) Any storeman (even if he doesn't deal with blankets). Also applied to the Royal Logistics Corps in general, even though their duties include everything from catering to bomb-disposal as well as storekeeping.
- blue falcon
- (US) "buddy fucker," i.e. one who does not help a fellow soldier, or who intentionally gets a soldier in trouble.
- Bend over, here it comes again
- blue force
- (US Army or Air Force) The friendly force, the opposite of the OpFor.
- blue on blue contact
- (US and UK) A friendly-fire incident.
- (US) Any military doctor, especially in the Navy. Probably derived from Sawbones.
- Bravo Zulu
- (Worldwide Navies) Means 'Well Done'. Comes from the Allied Naval Signal Book, conveyed by flag hoist or voice radio.
- (US) A soldier with a medical condition that would hinder the soldier's ability to perform certain tasks. Anything that is not operationally ready.
- brown shoe
- (US Air Force) Things and people related to the time that the Air Corps was a subsidiary unit of the US Army. When the Air Force became an independent unit black shoes replaced the brown shoes worn by the Army at that time.
(US Navy) Things and people related to the naval aviation community. From the time when brown shoes were only authorized for aviation ratings and officers.
- any person serving on a submarine or in the Submarine Service. (a reference to decompression sickness)
- (US) A second lieutenant or ensign, in reference to the rank insignia - a single gold bar.
- (US Navy) Also, Bravo Zulu. Allied Signals Book (ATP 1) for "Well done".
- cannon cocker
- (US) An artilleryman.
- cannon fodder
- (US) (formerly) An infantryman sent into battle with the expectation that he will be killed.
- Canoe U
- The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Jocular when used by graduates, pejorative when used by outsiders.
- (US) Cavalry.
- Chair Force
- (US) the US Air Force, referring to the fact that many Air Force personnel spend their time "flying a desk", i.e. doing office work of various sorts.
- (US) Phonetic Alphabet for the letter C. Used in Vietnam as a general term for the Vietcong or the Vietnamese people.
- Charlie Mike
- (US) phonetic alphabet for "continue mission"
- chicken colonel
- a full colonel, for the eagle insignia. Also known as "full bull", "full bird", or "bird colonel" as opposed to "light colonel" which is a lieutenant colonel.
- The worst kind of shit as it is small minded and has no large purpose and no direction whatsoever
- (US) The familiar form of address for any US Army warrant officer or US Navy chief petty officer. Also, a section leader in the US Army.
- Chief of Smoke
- (US) The senior enlisted man of an artillery battery after the First Sergeant. Also, "Smoke."
- A disastrous situation that results from the errors of several people or groups. In semi-polite company this is referred to as a charlie foxtrot (from the phonetic alphabet).
- Cocked, locked, and ready to rock
- (US) Prepared for anything. Comes from the state of having cocked one's M-16, locked the bolt forward with a round in the chamber, and set the selector switch to "AUTO", fully automatic, aka Rock and Roll.
- Abbreviation for Continental United States, also "stateside".
- (US) Collect shit and move-out.
- Dear John (or Jane) letter
- A letter from home meaning a soldier's significant other is leaving the soldier while he/she is deployed.
- Delta Hotel
- (US) phonetic alphabet for "direct hit"
- deuce and a half
- (US) 2 1/2 ton truck used for carrying cargo or up to 40 people. Commonly used in convoys.
- dick beaters
- (Aus) Any unknown Australian enlisted soldier.
- A medic.
- (US) A US Army infantryman - common in World War II
- (US) Also a US Army soldier - this term is almost exclusively used in the context of World War I
- (UK) An artilleryman, or the Artillery in general. Artillery will often fire over the heads of friendly troops, who will certainly not appreciate a round that drops short.
- (US) A member of the Air Defense Artillery.
- Farts and Darts
- A reference to the decorations on the brim of a field-grade officer's dress uniform cap in the US Air Force.
- Fighting In Built Up Areas.
- First Shirt
- (US) a First Sergeant. Also, "First Soldier" or "Top".
- (US) An artillery soldier in a Fire Support Team (FST).
- fruit salad
- (US) The colorful collection of medals worn on the breast of a dress uniform.
- fruit loops
- (US Army) The "Army Service Ribbon" is sometimes referred to as this.
- (US) Abbreviation for "fucked up beyond all recognition (or repair)." Sometimes "FUBER" for "economical repair".
- Often thought to mean an unorganized group of soldiers, this term actually refers to a loose group of airborne things headed in the same general direction. Thus, a gaggle of gnats; a gaggle of B-52s, a gaggle of ICBMs, a gaggle of artillery shells.
- (US) Abbreviation for "Government Issue." As a noun, GI refers to a member of a US military service. As an adjective, it can be applied to any item of US military materiel or procedure. When used as a verb it means to put into military shape, as in "to GI the barracks". The full phrase government issue is not used as a noun or verb. Etymology at GI.
- G.I. Party
- (US Army) A term used to describe scrubbing the barracks from top to bottom. This sort of "party" is seldom fun.
- goat rope
- a useless, futile, or foolish activity. A waste of time directed by higher authority.
- General Officer bright idea. An idea often inspired by a briefing, that is vocalized by a General officer. Sometimes it is valid, sometimes it is pointless, but it always creates more bureaucratic work that is often unnecessary to the mission.
- goldbrick, goldbricker
- (US) A member of the military who feigns illness to avoid duty; more recently any service member who shirks duty.
- Good Training
- (US) Anything that does not result in death. 'We had rain for three days during the field problem, but it was all good training.'
- (US) A US soldier - sometimes, but not always, specifically refers to an infantryman. Folklore has it that GRUNT was originally an acronym of government reject -- unfit for normal training.
- (US) An artillery piece. This isn't slang per se but precision, as rifles and pistols are referred to as "small arms" or "sidearms" or simply "weapons." Gun is also slang for "penis"; recruits learn not to call their weapon a gun in the rhyme, This is my rifle/This is my gun/This one's for fighting/This one's for fun.
- gun bunny
- (US) An artilleryman - often specifically a cannon crewman
- (UK) An Artillery term for a junior officer, implying that they would be more useful wedged under the wheels of the gun to prevent it sinking into the mud than in their current role.
- (US) a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant -- or -- (US) a Naval Gunner's mate . Less commonly used to describe the duty position of gunnery sergeant in a US Army howitzer platoon.
- (US) A general term for Iraqis during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. From Arabic for 'friend.'
- (US) A general term used to describe Middle Easterns during the war in Iraq in 2003 "same as Habib" refers to people native to the Middle Eastern Countries, India, and Egypt
- (US) Any hard-surfaced road.
- high speed, low drag
- (US) Excellent, particularly of equipment.
- Any headquarters.
- hit the silk
- (US) To abandon an aircraft mid-flight by means of a parachute. For example, "Johnson's plane took a lot of flak, but he hit the silk just in time!" Also, punch Elvis.
- Hooah, Hoo-rah or Hoo-yah
- (US) A spirited cry, meaning "affirmative" or "I am motivated." Short for "Heard, Understood and Acknowledged." Hoo-rah is chiefly used by the US Marines. Not to be confused with HUA which is pronounced much the same.
- Head up Ass
- Hudson High
- The United States Military Academy at West Point, which overlooks the Hudson River. Pejorative.
- (US) Same as "Hooah," used in the US Army 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment . Based on an American Indian war cry.
- In country
- (US) In a foreign territory, esp. a combat zone, esp. Vietnam. I was in country that whole summer. Does not generally apply to foreign basing in friendly countries during peacetime.
- A US Marine - according to some, a reference to the "high-and-tight" haircut and squared chin. Alternatively, a reference to Marine utility covers supposed resemblance to mason jar lids. Pejorative.
- jet jockey
- (US) A pilot.
- (US) A man who steals a soldier's girlfriend/wife when deployed, out in the field, or in training. So often referred to in cadences used during exercises that the cadences themselves have become known as jodies or jody calls.
- Ain't no use in goin' home,
- Jodie's got your girl alone.
- (US) A soldier.
- Lima Charlie
- (US) Phonetic Alphabet radio slang for loud and clear
- (US Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps) Nickname for Lieutenant (pronounced ELL-TEE). A pronunciation of the actual abbreviation for Lieutenant.
- (US) A United States Marine, from the high leather collar formerly worn with formal uniforms.
- Mike Mike
- (US) Millimeter, from the phonetic alphabet.
- (US) Minutes, from the phonetic alphabet.
- (US) An attempt to pronounce the acronym MLRS for Multiple Launch Rocket System.
- (US) A nickname for an officer promoted from the enlisted ranks. Can be respectful when used by enlisted ranks and seasoned officers, or pejorative when used by career-oriented academy trained officers.
- (US Air Force and Navy) An inexperienced pilot or aircrew member.
- the old man
- The unit commander. In practice, this term is often used even when the commander is female.
- (US) Acronym for "outside the CONtinental United States. While this acronym is predominantly used by the military, some US-based multinational corporations also use it.
- (US) The exercise enemy at the American National Training Center in California. By extension, the enemy or 'OPposing FORce.'
- (U.S.) Person(or personnel) Other than Grunt. Used by combat arms soldiers to describe anyone in a support Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). This is often derogatory.
- Puddle Pirate
- (U.S.) A Member of the United States Coast Guard, so called because of the mistaken belief that they never sail into deep water.
- Purple Suiter
- (U.S.) A person who is serving in an all-service (Army, Navy and Air Force) position. An example would be a Naval officer who manages fuel for all military units in an area or major command.
- (US) An artilleryman. Refers to red leggings worn by some artillerymen in the 19th century.
- (US Army) Rear Echelon Mother Fucker. This is a term used negatively to describe a soldier that is the farthest from the front lines. Usually a paper pusher or aide to a General.
- ring knocker
- A military academy graduate, particularly one who calls attention to the fact. Pejorative.
- (US) A particularly stupid soldier. From "Dumber than a box of rocks".
- rock and roll
- (US) The fully automatic fire setting on a weapon. "The M-16 selector switch has three settings: safe, semi-automatic, and rock-and-roll."
- ruptured duck
- (US) The Honorable Service award given to US service members who were discharged under honorable conditions during World War II. Also used to describe the recipient. Refers to the awkward appearance of the spread-wing eagle of the emblem.
- (US) Informal for Sergeant.
- scaley, or scaleyback
- (UK) A signaller. It is suggested that this term comes from the figure of Mercury on their cap badges, who appears to have fish-like scales on his back.
- scrambled eggs
- (US) The decorations on the brim of a field-grade officer's dress uniform cap.
- sick, lame and lazy
- The group of military personnel on 'sick call' or excused from duty for injury or illness -- a half-joking reference to malingering.
- Sierra Hotel
- The NATO phonetic alphabet abbreviation for Shit Hot. It is considered high praise and is the pilot's favorite and all-purpose expression of approval. For example, "That Sierra Hotel pilot just shot down six MiGs and an ICBM!" This is the "polite" military way to say that something is very impressive, and has fallen into use outside the military.
- shit on a shingle
- (sometimes abbreviated S.O.S.) (US) Chipped beef on toast.
- (US Navy) Short for "black shoe", a surface warfare officer. Pejorative. Compare "brown shoe".
- (US) Abbreviation for "Situation Normal, All Fucked Up"
- stand tall
- (US) Used as a verb for to be proud, or to present a military appearance.
- Sparks or Sparky
- (US) Anyone who deals with radios or things electronic.
- (US) A spy. Used for anyone in the CIA, NSA, or NRO. In the military, one who deals with the gathering of electronic intelligence.
- squared away
- cleaned up; in military shape; ready for inspection.
- (US) A US Navy sailor. Often used with derogatory intent. Inspired naming of the cartoon character Squiddly Diddly , a squid in a sailor suit.
- (US) Enlisted rank insignia, especially E-4 and above (non-commissioned officer (NCO)) pay grades in leadership positions. Get your stripes - to be promoted to an NCO rank.
- (US) A freshman cadet at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
- (US) A US Navy sailor. A reference to "swabbing the deck", a frequent and highly visible activity of deck division sailors.
- Tango Mike
- (US) Phonetic Alphabet for "Thank you much."
- Tango Uniform
- Phonetic Alphabet for "Tits Up"
- (US Army & USMC) Not in optimal condition. (e.g. The HUMVEE went Tango Uniform before we even arrived.)
- (US Air Force) Dead drunk.
- (US Army and Air Force) Temporary duty; a short reassignment to another duty location, generally for a few weeks or months. Usually used in its official sense, but sometimes describes a seimi-official recreational trip or boondoggle.
- (US) Excellent, especially a piece of equipment. Origin: teflon-coated bullets, used for piercing body armor.
- those people
- (US) A euphemism used for the enemy forces by Robert E. Lee during the American Civil War. The term is still widely used.
- (US) A jet aircraft pilot, particularly one with a penchant for speed.
- Tommy Atkins or tommy
- A generic name for a soldier in the British Army (now obsolete).
- A soldier, especially an unfit soldier..
- The first sergeant, or a sergeant major. In the US Marine Corps, a master sergeant or master gunnery sergeant.
- Trench monkey
- (US) A member of the Army infantry. Mostly used in a derogatory way by members of the Air Force.
- Uncle Sam's Misguided Children
- The United States Marine Corps. Sometimes also the "University of Science, Music, and Culture".
- Meaning to get out of an area. As in, "Un-ass my A.O." Originally used to mean simply, "get off your butt."
- Abbreviation for "Viet Cong" used in the Vietnam War.
- (US) Out of a particular type of ammunition. (e.g. “Negative, we are Winchester Hellfire.”)
- Whiskey Delta
- (US) Phonetic alphabet for "Weak Dick". Derogatory term used to describe someone who is not up to the task.
- (US Army) Same meaning as "Hooah," although it is considered to be the war cry of the US Army Rangers.
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