Military Slang

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    As some of you may be aware I go away on my jollies (w/end break) tomorrow including a day trip with parents to Dunkirk etc.

    Anyway whilst I'm away I thought I'd give some of you something to think about.......

    Being a Cockney and Ex Military and Police Officer I have always been interested in slang ie.

    Bobby from Robert Peel, Founder of the Police Service

    Not enough room in here to swing a cat, from Naval punishment and not having enough room below deck to swing a cat of nine tails

    Scalie Back from Signallers carry their Radio Batteries to the front during WW1 and getting acid burns on their backs.

    So what Military terms do you know and where do they originate from?

    See you and the numerous posts next week. Have a great Bank Holiday W/end Ladies and Gents-Those of you that get one that is :)
  2. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    One of the most used is "freeze the balls off a brass monkey". A naval term that many people regard as being rude but in fact isn't in its original meaning.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Good thinking Drew :)

    A fascinating subject and one could do a lot worse than start off with The Phrase Finder, found at:
    Re: Gone for a Burton
    which at least gives plenty of options for the origin of many well known phrases.

    As this site is supposed to be based on ww2 items I started by looking up the origin of "Gone for a Burton".

    I won't spoil it for you...... go to the site and read all about it for yourselves :)


  4. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Looks like there are plenty of options Ron. Cheers !!
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I still use 'Shufti' all the time, picked up from my grandad (c.40 years in the signals) & dad. Certainly seems to be a 'campaign' word brought back by the troops.
  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    A Sad one. Your mates just bought it. Killed.
  7. peterhastie

    peterhastie Senior Member

    An easy one for anyone with nautical knowledge

    " A Son of a Gun " or

    " Show a Leg "

  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  9. Herakles

    Herakles Senior Member

    The trouble with this thread is that many of the best terms can't be reported here!
  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The trouble with this thread is that many of the best terms can't be reported here!
    Oh, I think we don't mind ;).
    Nobody said soldiers had to be prim in their language.
  11. jacobtowne

    jacobtowne Senior Member

    "To buy the farm." Used by American airmen in Europe for being killed, particularly bomber crews, as best I can recall. It can refer to a person or an entire aircraft crew.


    PS. This phrase might (I'm unsure) also have been used for bomber crew that had been shot down, whether they survived or not.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Anymore details on these sayings your posting would be great.

    I.e where they originate from and how they came to be used ?

    For example

    'Three square meals a day'

    Is a term that originates from the Royal Navy as the Sailors meals were served on wooden Square plates.

    And the P-47 aircraft now had a name: "Thunderbolt". In postwar sources it would acquire the nickname of "Jug", said to be due to its resemblance to a jug of booze; as a contraction of "juggernaut"; or in reference to a "thunderjug", meaning a chamberpot. However, some sources claim this nickname was not in common use during the war and that the only nicknames it had during the conflict were "Bolt" or "T-Bolt".

    The above regarding the P-47 was sourced from the net however I listened to D-DAY by Stephen Ambrose (audio book) at the w/end whilst driving and he stated that the name Jug comes from the German Infantry which was short for some geran word to do with destruction or something ?
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Some adult ones from my American Cousins across the pond



    SNAFU- SITUATION NORMAL ALL, ARMY OR AMERCIAN (depending on who you are) F**K UP
  14. deadb_tch

    deadb_tch the deadliest b#tch ever

    Can add one russian army slang (it has LOTs of it :D), during two Chechnya campaigns federal troops called chechen separatists as 'Czechs', that is shorter than 'chechenets' (russian).
  15. GAZALA204

    GAZALA204 Junior Member

    HOLD FIRE, the slang term that comes from ther early days of black powder muskets when the user would have to stay in the aim till the powder went off and released the shot
  16. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    HOLD FIRE, the slang term that comes from ther early days of black powder muskets when the user would have to stay in the aim till the powder went off and released the shot

    Reminds me of half-cocked then ... as opposed to fully, that is. :p
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I don't really follow the 'Hold Fire' one? I've fired a variety of Black powder weapons from very plain medieval arrow gun, through Matchlock to Percussion cap, & though some have a very slight delay between initiation and firing we're talking fractions of seconds, not something that would require a command?

    If I ever thought it had anything other than a prosaic meaning I'd vaguely assume it related to Matchlocks and cannon linstocks, where one holds the burning match away from the touch-hole between shots?

    In a spirit of further enquiry (Pedantry ;)) I also just read something using thermodynamics that implies low temperature metal differences alone is very unlikely to ever freeze the iron balls from a Brass monkey... but a bit of ice and a rolling deck might just do it. :D

    To add one; does 'Short Arm Inspection' count as slang? :unsure:

  18. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Unless you are the one doing it, then is an onerous task.
  19. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Sorry to have triggered an obviously dark memory from your nursing days Jeff :D.

    I believe Owen's proud to have been a 'STAB'?
    And there's a 'Donkey walloper' or two that visits here...
  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    This thread is getting a bump purely because of something I just read in one of my WW2 diaries.

    Sunday 8th. April 1945
    Colonel gave A & B squadrons griff talk for this 'final' campaign. Packed tank sheet and covered my bed with Honey canopy.

    I came across the word GRIFF (used in the sense of information) and realised that I probably haven't used that word for at least 60 odd years.

    I wonder how many other words have disappeared from my vocabulary since those days ?


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