By Buddy Blouin
Every culture, subculture, industry, and group has its own language, jargon, and slang. It’s a way to communicate that just comes from the natural evolution of words until they become distinct pieces of our vocabulary. Serving in the American Armed Forces is no different. There is a ton of military slang ranging from the necessary to save time when communicating to the reality that the warzone lends itself to quite a heavy amount of profanity. Some are hilarious, some are necessary, some are fun, and some…you can’t quite describe it. If you wanna serve Uncle Sam, no problem, but BOHICA because you’re going to need to know the jargon. Not a comprehensive list but get ready for an important group of military slang acronyms and various other military lingo.

What Are Some Military Slang Words?

Military slang comes in many different forms. If you’re looking to join, then sooner or later, you’re going to need to get to know some military slang terms. From U.S. Army slang to any other branch, this guide will help get you started:
  • “Go time” in military slang is actually known as “H-Hour” or “D-Day”. It’s also a popular crossword puzzle answer, so if that’s your thing, you may come across it.
  • “Jody” military slang is the nickname given to men who have affairs with service members that are deployed. Don’t be a Jody.
  • FNG is similar to a Boot, it’s the f**kin’ new guy, of course.
  • Shellbacks are Sailors that have crossed the equator. Officially, there isn’t any hazing that goes along with that, of course…there might be a ceremony though. Read between the lines.
  • A POG is one of those slang military acronyms you don’t want to be associated with–a Person Other Than Grunt. "Jarheads", "Devil Dogs", "Teufel Hunden", and "Leathernecks" all translate to Marines. Some words are more accepted than others. Choose accordingly.
  • Jawa is slang for Army Soldiers that are stationed in the desert, named after the infamous Star Wars characters who live in the desert on Tatooine.
  • If you’re an “oxygen thief” you should probably shut up a bit. It means you’re talking too much.
  • To cannibalize means to take the parts of something but use them elsewhere. Recently, the U.S. Navy has faced scrutiny for this act.
  • The delicacy known as $#!t on a Shingle is actually toast with gravy and a prime example of funny military slang.
  • Nut to butt is a tight line facing forward. You’ll never guess how it got the name.
  • Klicks are kilometers because of the “clicking” noise that used to be made with the distance instruments for riflemen.
  • Helos are helicopters but in our opinion, if you didn’t get that you’ll need to know GOFO because you lack a “grasp of the (explicit) obvious”.
  • Fugazi means a (messed up) situation. It’s also the name of one of the most influential post-hardcore, emo bands of all time.
We could go on, but you get the picture. There are tons of funny, important, obvious, and derogatory terms throughout each branch. Part of it is just learning as you go and being made fun of along the way. Keep your wits about you and hope your semantics skills didn’t get completely erased after leaving English class.

What Is a BOOT Military Slang?

BOOT military slang has origins in the Vietnam War. It stands for “beginning of one’s tour” and is used to describe newer Marines that are serving in the branch. Obviously, this bit of jargon also has ties to the idea of boot camp and this is why Marines that typically just get out of it or MOS school have been known to be called “BOOTS”.

What Does FUBAR Mean in Military Slang?

When something is f**ked up beyond all recognition or repair, you’ll be saying FUBAR. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person, place, or thing, the slang term dates back to World War II and remains one of the most infamous forms of slang in the military. Funny enough, a FUBAR TV series is coming as an action/comedy in 2023. It stars a man best known as the Terminator and will be sure to deliver plenty of military slang, action, comedy, and much more when it debuts. Even outside of the military, the culture and slang found within find their way into the mainstream…whether or not civilians understand it all…well, that’s another question.




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