Military Terms/Slang
General Military Questions

Military Terms/Slang

Each Military Branch has terms/slang words that may not make sense to a civilian or a member of a different branch.

Military terms/slang originates for various reasons and changes throughout time.

Movies and TV shows may depict terminology that was used in World War II, that are no longer referenced anymore.

It can be hard to stay current with military slang, so OMK created a list of terms/slang that are new or established, but still used, found below.

# 0-9

1MC –  The overhead public address system on US Navy ships.

3rd Deck Dive Team- Mainly a Marine Corps term, meaning someone is suicidal and should dive off of the third deck.

11 Bang-Bang- Army infantryman

5 Fingers of Death- Beef franks with beans served in some MRE’s. Named for the number and unpleasant taste

99- Navy term meaning the information being discussed is pertinent to all personnel

100mph Tape- Standard Army green duct tape

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AAV- Amphibious Assault Vehicle

ACU- Army Combat Uniform

Ali Baba- Iraqi term for bad guy, criminal or insurgent

Alpha Charlie- Verbally reprimanded

Angel- Used in Iraq to refer to a soldier killed in combat

AOR- Area of responsibility

As you were- Return to your previous task or posture

AWOL- Absent Without Official Leave; leaving post without permission

Azimuth Check- Ensuring that you are on the correct path or that the task is being done according to procedure


11 Bang-Bang
While a Bang Bang may refer to a pistol or rifle, an 11 Bang-Bang refers to an infantryman like the one pictured. Image:

BAH- Basic housing allowance

Bang Bang- Pistol or a Rifle

Barracks Rat- Personnel who stay in the barracks during downtime

Battlefield Airman- Air Force Special Operations Command pararescue, combat control and weather troops

Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids- Reference to supply items such a food, ammunition or medical supplies

Beat Feet- Move quickly

Beat Your Face- Push-ups

BFT- Blue Force Tracker; Equipment that connects with a satellite to provide locations of units as well as maps and routes

Big Voice/Giant Voice- Term used to describe the loudspeaker system on a military base. It will often make a range of announcements, such as alerting soldiers of incoming attacks, the schedule of upcoming ordnance disposal explosions and when and where to take cover as an attack strikes. It also broadcasts Reveille and Retreat when in Garrison.

Bird- Helicopter

Black- When discussing amounts of something, it means you are almost out

Blue Canoe- Portable toilet

BLUF- Bottom line upfront

Blue Falcon- Battle buddy who informs higher command of actions; tattletale

Blue-on-Blue – Refers to an attack in which soldiers are unknowingly fighting against their own side, often ending up with injuries and even death

Blue-on-Green-  Similar to the ‘Blue-on-Blue’, this means your own forces are accidentally engaging forces friendly to your force. 

BOLO- Usually an Army derogatory term for an individual who cannot perform a task or meet basic requirements; also can mean “be on the look out”

Bone- B1 Bomber

Brad- M2 Bradley Armored Personal Carrier (APC)

Bravo Zulu- Good Job

Bubblehead- Personnel in the submarine

Butter Bar- 2nd Lieutenant


C-Wire- Razor Wire

CAB- (Army) Combat Action Badge; soldiers who perform in an infantry but do not have an infantry MOS

Cat Hole- Hole in the ground dug by a soldier to use as a bathroom

CC- Coalition Country; coalition of allies

CCP- Casualty Collection Point; closest area to action where personnel are traiged

Charlie Mike- Continue Mission; continue with your task

Chest Candy- Ribbons or Medals wore around the neck

CHU- Small container housing units on large bases

CIB- (Army) Combat Infantryman’s Badge; Award for infantry who is under fire

Clearing barrel- Dirt filled area used to clear weapons at entry points of FOB.

Commo- Communications personnel or equipment

CONUS- Continental United States

COP- Small base in a combat area, combat outpost

CP- Check Point

Crank- (Navy) Temporary galley duty

Crypto- Code that scrambles a radio signal

CSH- Combat Support Hospital

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Digies is a term meaning digital camouflage, (pictured). Image: wikimedia

DAP- Deltoid Auxiliary Protection. Shoulder armor

Dash Ten- An army publication; usually a user or technical manual

Dear John- Break up letter sent to a soldier from a significant other

Demilitarized Zone- Area that military forces and equipment are banned from

Dependa- Dependents of a military personnel

Detail- Referring to a usually unappealing task such as cleaning

DFAC- Dining facility

Digies- Digital Camouflage

Double Gates- The task of referring to individuals with names not of their own when around detainees

Drive On- To keep going

Dustoff- Helicopter medical evacuation

Duty Station- Location that a service member is temporarily or permanently conducting work

Dynamited Chicken (Navy)- Chicken Cacciatore or chicken a la king


Embed- Term for a reporter who is provided security, shelter and transportation by military personnel so they can observe and report on firsthand operations

ERB- (Army) Enlisted Record Brief; document containing information such as rank, ASVAB details, promotion points, etc.

ETS- Expiration Term of Service; the date a soldier completes their contract


Farmer Armor- Improvised armor for a vehicle

Fart Sack- Sleeping Bag, or in some cases a mattress cover.

Fast Mover- Fighter jet

Fat Cakes- Unhealthy dessert or sweets

File 13- Garbage can

First Shirt- First Sergeant

Five-Sided Puzzle Palace- The Pentagon

FOB- Forward operating base; a mid-size base with basic provisions

Fobber or Fobbit- Someone who does not the FOB

Fourth Point of Contact- Butt; term comes from a parachute drop in which the fourth point of contact is the butt.

Front Load- Being the first to complete a task

FST- Forward Surgical Team


Galley- Kitchen on a ship

Geardo- Soldier who spends a large amount of money on military gear that is generally not needed

Gedunk- Snack Food that can be purchased, usually used by Navy on a ship

Glass House- An example of a target house for rehearse assaults

Goat Trail- Dirt road

Gofasters- Sneakers

Good Cookie- Good Conduct Medal given to Marine Corps personnel

Green Bean- Coffee shop ran by civilians, common on larger bases

Green-on-Blue- Forces “thought to be” friendly to your force accidentally, or not so accidentally, engaging your forces. 

Groundhog Day- Referring to the movie by the same name, and the feeling that each day is the same during deployment

Grunt- Infantryman

Gum Shoe- Sailor Cryptology Technician


Haji- Indigenous Iraqi or person of Arabic decent

Hardball- Paved Road

Hangar Queen- Aircraft used for replacement parts

Hawk- Cold weather

Head- Bathroom on a ship

Helo- Helicopter

Hesco- Dirt filled bins for absorbing explosions

High Speed- An individual who is highly motivated and at or near peak efficacy. Can be used sarcastically. Often includes “Low Drag”

HMMWV- High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle

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IDF- Indirect fire

IED- Improvised Explosive Device

Ink Stick- Pen

INTSUM- Intelligence Summary given after events happened

Iron Rations- Rations used in an emergency situation


Jawa- Soldiers stationed in a desert area

JDAM- A bomb dropped from a U.S. aircraft

Joe- Soldier

JOP- Joint Operation Planning; Military forces joining for operations

JTF- Joint Task Force


Kevlar/Kpot- Helmet

Kinetic- Violent

Kicks- Kilometers

Knees in the Breeze- Airborne term for exiting an aircraft

KP- Kitchen Patrol; kitchen duty


Lands- Raised spiral surface in the bore of a weapon

Latrine Queen- (Air Force) Term for a trainee during basic training who is a team lead responsible for bathroom duty.

Left (or Right) Flank- The far left or right edge of troops in relation to the enemy

LES- Leave and Earnings Statement; holds information similar to a civilian pay stub

Lima Charlie- Loud and Clear


MRE is an acronym for Meal-Ready to Eat, such as the meals pictured above. Image: wikimedia

Mark- Mk-19 40 mm grenade launcher

Meat Wagon- Medical Emergency Vehicle

Midnight Rats- Late night food

Mike- Minutes

Moonbeam- (Marines) Flashlight

MRE- Meal Ready to Eat. A vacuum-sealed meal with a long shelf life

MSR- Main supply route

Mustang- Officer promoted from enlisted ranks

MWR- Morale, Welfare and Recreation; FOB area for recreation


Naval Landing Party- Navy personnel for ground-force operations ashore

Net- Radio Network

NGO- Non-government Organization

No-Go- Failure at a training station or job task

Nut to Butt- Standing very close together


O Dark Thirty- Early in the morning

Oconus- Overseas; not in the continental U.S.

OCS/OTS- Officer Candidate School; Officer Training School

Officer’s Candy- Scented cake placed in urinals

OPTEMPO- Operation Tempo; the pace at which one is working

OTV- Outer Tactical Vest


PCC- Pre-combat check

PCS- Permanent Change of Station

People Tank- (Navy) Inner hull of a submarine

Pill Pusher- (Navy) Hospital Corpsman; or a medic

PLF- Parachute Landing Fall

POG- Person Other than Grunt. Anyone who’s not Infantry. In other words, if you ain’t Infantry you’re a POG

Pogey Bait- Food that the Army does not issue, but tastes good

POO Site- Point of Origin site

Pond Water- The speed at which a slug / laggard is moving

Pop Smoke- To leave

PSD- Personal Security Detail


QRF- Quick Reaction Force; ready to react

Quay- Man-made structure between shore and land

Quick Time- Cadence at 120 steps per minute


Rack- Refers to a bed; soldiers ‘rack out’, meaning they go to sleep

Red on Red- Enemy on enemy fire

Release Point- When higher command releases control of a unit to the commander

REMF- Rear Echelon Mother F**ker

Rocks and Shoals- (Navy) Rules and regulations

ROE- Rules of Engagement

Ropeyarn Sunday- (Navy) Half-holiday

ROTC- Reserve Officer Training Corps

Rotorhead- Helicopter pilot

RTO- Radio Telephone Operator or RO-Radio Operator

Ruck- Ruck sack; backpack

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Sandbox- Iraq, Afghanistan or other desert area

Scrambled Eggs- Embellishments on Officer’s caps

Scuttlebutt- (Navy) Rumors or gossip

Sky Blossom- Deployed parachute

Smoked- Physical punishment for some sort of infraction

Snivel Gear- Cold weather gear

Soup Sandwich- Something has gone extremely wrong

Speedball- Refers to a bag dropped from a plane or helicopter for soldiers in the field that contains supplies

Spoon- A cook

Squid or Swabbie- U.S. Navy member

SRB- Selective Reenlistment Bonus; Bonus offered to enlisted members as encouragement to reenlist


A TAC, or Tactical Control Center, can be different sizes and involve different equipment depending on location. The above is an example of a TAC. Image: wikimedia

Taco- (Air Force) Receiving an unsatisfactory grade during training; shape of the letter resembles a taco shape

TAD- Temporary Additional Duty

Take a Knee- Rest

Tango Mike- Thanks much

Target Discrimination- Ability of a surveillance system choosing an individual target when there are multiple options

TCP- Traffic Control Point

TIC- Troops in a contact fight; can relate to a firefight or IED

TOC- Tactical Operations Center

Turtleback- Swimming on your back to watch for direction and a compass

Twidget- Sailor who works on electronic equipment


UAV- Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Underground- Individuals who support resistant movement through secret operations

Unit Identification code- Six character code that identifies military active, reserve and guard units

UXO- Unexploded Ordnance; potential to explode


VBIED- Vehicle Borne IED; car bomb

Voice in the Sky- Military base broadcast announcements

Voluntold- Assignment that is presented as voluntary but is seen as mandatory


Weapons of Mass Destruction- Advanced weapons with the capability of causing mass destruction of casualties

Wingnut-  WINGNUT comes from the shape of the Air Force E2 rank with single stripes, which looks like a wingnut.

Wire- Term referring to the base; a person is inside or outside the wire

Woobie- (Army) Issued poncho liner used as a blanket


XO- Executive Officer; just below the Commanding Officer


Zone of Action- Small Section of the total tactical area

Zonk- Released after formation

Zoomie- Anyone who operates a flying vehicle

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Rob V.
Military Terms

Military Terms

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See our list of 194 of the most common military terms and slang in use today. Includes jargon and lingo for the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.
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6 Replies to “Military Terms/Slang

  1. Rob
    The USAF term WINGNUT comes from the shape of the E2 rank with single stripes, which looks like a wingnut.

  2. Rob V, thought of a couple more:
    Knees in the Breeze – Airborne term for exiting an aircraft.
    No-Go — Failure at a training station or job task
    PLF — Parachute Landing Fall

  3. Rob V, these are all really good but POG stans for Person Other than Grunt, meaning anyone who’s not Infantry. In other words, if you ain’t Infantry you’re a POG. Said pōg.

    Also, you’re missing Blue on Blue, meaning, from the speaker’s perspective their own military accidentally fighting another element of its own forces.
    Blue on Green meaning your own forces accidentally engaging forces friendly to your force.
    And Green on Blue meaning Forces “thought to be” friendly to your force accidentally, or not so accidentally engaging your forces. (See the February 17th Militia, Sep 11 2012, Benghazi)

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