A question posted recently on Quora asked, "What are some commonly used military slang words?" Obviously, there are too many to list here, but below were some of the responses. Check them out and add yours in the comments below.
By Jon Mixon, USAF Vet
ASAP - As Soon As Possible: This has become slang in normal speech but in the military it means "immediately."
f***nuts - A derogatory term used to describe a host of people and situations.
FUBAR - F***** Up Beyond All Repair: A description of many differing items and people
Marine Corps socket set - An adjustable wrench
Wingnut - A member of the US Air Force
Squid/squidee/swabbie/swab jockey - Affectionate terms used by members of other service branches to describe members of the US Navy.
Bravo Sierra (BS) - Initials for the word "Bullshit"
First Shirt - First Sergeant (Usually the senior NCO within a military unit)
Ground Pounder - A term used to describe a military member in the armed forces whose primary job is being an infantry member.
Rack - Navy/Marine Corps: A bed (particularly on a ship)
Rack time - Sleeping (See also rack)
Outstanding - A superlative used by members of USMC to describe most things.
Unsat - Short for "Unsatisfactory": Used by members of the USMC to describe anything )people,facilities,etc) which are not up to par.
By Jon Davis, Sergeant of Marines, fought in Iraq during OIF, Amateur military historian.
My personal favorite:
Errr... - (U.S. Marines) An abbreviated or unmotivated "Oorah". Often used as a form of acknowledgment or greeting. Yes, we really do walk around saying "Errr" at one another in the way normal civilized humans say "Hello."
And other notable euphemisms.
5 fingers of death - (US Army, US Marines) Another name for the MRE beef franks, so named for their number and unpleasant taste. Also known as "Beans and motherf******" for the same reason. Later versions of this meal only contained four beef franks without any beans or sauce and were subsequently nicknamed the "4 d**** of death".
BGB - (US Navy and Marines) Big Gray Boat. Refers to large ships, e.g. carriers and battleships, that are gray in color.
Bird, Ball and Chain - (US Marines) Cynical term for the Marine Corps' Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem.
boot - Someone lacking in experience. A reference to "boot camp".
broke-dick - (US) A soldier with a medical condition that would hinder the soldier's ability to perform certain tasks; alternatively, equipment that is not operationally ready.
bulkhead - (US Navy, Marines, RCN) The interior structural divider of a ship; used ashore to refer to the interior walls of a building, as well.
Bullshit flag, throwing the - (US) Challenging the factual accuracy of another's statement.
cammies - (US Navy and Marines) Camouflage utility uniform. What are referred to as "BDUs" in the Army and Air Force.
cheesedick - (US Marines) To do something with minimal effort. As in "He cheesedicked his way through it."
chem light batteries - (US Marines) A form of snipe hunt. To have a new Marine search for obviously non-existent batteries for chemical light sticks.
dark green - (US Marines) An African-American US Marine; as compared to a "light-green". Intended to promote a sense of oneness among Marines "All Marines are green." Becoming an archaic term; sometimes perceived as offensive instead.
Devil Dog - (US) US Marine. The term comes from a (possibly apocryphal) complimentary term,Teufelhund, applied by German soldiers to Marines during World War I for fighting like shock troops.
firewatch ribbon - The National Defense Service Medal, which is given to all members of the military during a wartime event. It is presented during bootcamp and everyone gets one, so among the military people serving beside you... no one cares. Firewatch is a reference to the guard duty you do while at bootcamp.
Good Cookie - The Good Conduct Medal, which is presented to naval and Marine Corps personal for every three years of service without a major disciplinary offense.
Grape - 1. (US Submarine Service) Delightfully easy. Examples: "This is %$# grape duty! I %$# love it!" or "That was a grape sig, you %$#." (See "sig" below)
2. (US Marines, Army) One's head. For example: "Put your cover [hat] on your grape."
3. (USAF Fighter Pilots) : an aircraft/pilot that is easy to shoot down.
4. (US Navy) : The flight deck crewmen on an aircraft carrier tasked with fuel handling (so called for their purple shirts and helmets) . Related to "skittles".
Hump - Walking with a pack approximately half your body weight from one location to another, not to be confused with the similar activities performed unto dog owners by their K9 companions.)
ID10T Form - (USAF/USMC) Idiot form. A non-existent form that ignorant airmen/marines are sent to find. Usually they are new to their unit.
Lance Coolie; Lance Criminal - (US Marines) Cynical terms for Lance Corporals, the third-lowest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps.
Lance Corporal Underground - (US Marines) refers to what the junior enlisted are saying or feeling; a more informed rumormill.
Last Cleaning Position Left - (US Marines) A play on the abbreviation "LCPL" for Lance Corporal, the highest non-NCO rank. Used to remind a Lance Corporal that they are still subject to having to clean.
libo - (US Navy and Marines) Liberty, time away from work (after hours, on a weekend, during a port-call, etc.) not charged against leave.
Master Guns - (US Marines) Master Gunnery Sergeant; (US Navy) Gunners Mate Master Chief
Moonbeam - (US Marines) A flashlight. We are just as confused as you are.
"OFP" - (US MARINES) Own F****** Program, a term given to a marine who doesn't follow an order given or is not following the marine corps standard.
On the double - (US Navy, Marines) As quickly as possible; without delay.
Oorah! - (US Marines) Term used to respond in the affirmative to a question, acknowledge an order, or generally to express enthusiasm. Comparable to "Hooah" in the Army.
Oscar-Mike - (US) On the Move, from the phonetic alphabet.
Perfect for Cleaning; Personnel for Cleaning - (US Army and Marines) Unenthusiastic synonyms for Privates First Class (PFCs) in the Army and the Marine Corps.
Professional F****** Custodian - (Marine Corps) Private First Class, usually used during field day.
rack ops - (US Marines) The time for sleep, if permitted, while in the field.
"...Since Jesus was a corporal" - (US Army and Marines) For a very long time. e.g.: "I haven't been home since Jesus was a corporal."
Shitbird - The guy in the unit everyone hates for making life harder on everyone.
Top - (US Army and Marines) The First Sergeant or Master Sergeant (USMC), senior enlisted man at company level.
Turtle f***(ing) - (US Marines) Striking a Marine on his helmet with another helmet. The clunking of the two kevlar helmets sounds like two empty shells hitting. Sometimes done deliberately among friends, but often as a joke to an unsuspecting trooper.
Twentynine Stumps - (US Marines) Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. Often simply referred to as "the Stumps."
Unf*** - (US Army, Marines) To bring something or someone into proper order and accord with SOP.
NOTE: Some of the above were sourced from Wikipedia
About the author
"The Question" section brings together user-generated articles from Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including the military. The questions and answers featured here on are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of M1.