U.S. Marine Corps acronyms and expressions
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This is a list of acronyms, expressions, euphemisms, jargon, military slang, and sayings in common or formerly common use in the United States Marine Corps. Many of the words or phrases have varying levels of acceptance among different units or communities, and some also have varying levels of appropriateness (usually dependent on how senior the user is in rank). Many terms also have equivalents among other service branches that are not acceptable amongst Marines, but are comparable in meaning. Many acronyms and terms have come into common use from voice procedure use over communication channels, translated into the NATO phonetic alphabet, or both.
The scope of this list is to include words and phrases that are unique to or predominantly used by the Marine Corps or the United States Naval Service. For other military slang lists, see the "See also" section.
180 — one-hundred-eighty degrees on a compass
(180°); to change to the opposite one's point of
view (physical or mental).
- 360 — complete circle on a compass (360°); to put protection all around.
- 48, 72, & 96 — standard holiday periods of 2, 3, or four days of liberty.
- 6-by — rugged truck equipped with six-wheel drive.
- 782 or deuce gear — standard issue web gear, combat gear, or field equipment, such as ALICE, MOLLE, or ILBE. Named after standard Marine Corps Form 782, which Marines signed when they took custody of and responsibility for their equipment.
- 8 bells — signal for the end of a four-hour watch, so named for the incrementally increasing number of bells at half-hours.
- about face — movement where a person or group turns and faces the opposite direction; close order drill movement to turn about in a precise manner.
- above my/your pay grade — expression denying responsibility or authority (indicating that the issue should be brought to higher-ranking officials).
- AHA — Ammunition Holding Area, where ammo is stored and issued. See also ASP.
- ahoy — traditional nautical greeting, used for hailing other boats; originally a Viking battle cry.
- all hands — entire ship's company or unit personnel, including all officers and enlisted personnel.
- ant hill — combat outpost with a large number of radio antennae visible.
- AO — Area of Operations, or the geographical region that falls under the responsibility of a unit to control and carry out a mission.
- APC — large, white tablet formerly issued for minor discomfort, that was commonly (albeit mistakenly) called an "all-purpose capsule," in reality named after its ingredients: aspirin, phenacetin, and caffeine; replaced by 800mg ibuprofen today; less commonly refers to an armored personnel carrier, primarily an Army term.
- ARMY — Aren't Ready for Marine's Yet/Aren't Really Men Yet, pejorative backronym used by other branches.
- ashore — on the shore, as opposed to aboard ship; any place off a Marine Corps or government reservation.
- Asiatic — mildly deranged or eccentric as a result of too much foreign duty, or one who has missed too many boats.
- ASP — Ammunition Supply Point, where ammo is stored and issued. See also AHA.
- ass pack — small pack worn around the belt above the buttocks, similar to Fanny pack. See also butt pack.
- as you were — order to disregard the immediately preceding order, often in response to a call to "attention on deck" or when the orders issued were mistaken.
- ate up — person unaware of what's going on; one who is always lazy, in disarray, and unsatisfactory.
- aviation units — See also active squadrons, inactive squadrons, & aviation support units
- HMX - Marine Helicopter Squadron
- HMH - Marine Heavy Helicoper Squadron
- HML - Marine Light Helicopter Squadrons
- HMLA - Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron
- HMLAT - Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron
- HMM - Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron
- HMT - Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron
- HMMT - Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron
- LAAD Bn - Low-altitude Air Defense Battalion
- MACS - Marine Air Control Squadron
- MASS - Marine Air support squadron
- MALS - Marine Aviation Logisitics Squadron
- MOTS - Marine Operational Training Squadrons
- MTACS - Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron
- MWSS - Marine Wing Support Squadron
- MWCS - Marine Wing Communications Squadron
- MWHS - Marine Wing Headquarters squadron
- VMAQ - Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron
- VMA - Marine Attack Squadron
- VMAT - Marine Attack Training Squadron
- VMB - Marine Bombing Squadrons
- VMC - Marine Composite Squadrons
- VMCJ - Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadrons
- VMD - Marine Photographic Squadrons
- VMF - Marine Fighter Squadron
- VMF(N) - Marine Night Fighter Squadrons
- VMFA - Marine Fighter Attack Squadron
- VMFA(AW) - Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron
- VMFAT - Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron
- VMFP - Marine Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
- VMGR - Marine Aerial Refueler/Transport Squadron
- VMGRT - Marine Aerial Refueler/Transport Training Squadron
- VMJ - Marine Reconnaissance Squadron / Marine Target Towing Detachments
- VML - Marine Glider Squadron
- VMM - Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron
- VMMT - Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron
- VMO - Marine Observation Squadron
- VMP - Marine Patrol Squadron
- VMR - Marine Transport Squadrons
- VMS - Marine Scouting Squadrons
- VMSB - Marine Scout Bombing Squadrons
- VMTB - Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadrons
- VMTD - Marine Target Towing Detachments
- VMU - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron
- VMX - Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron
- ZMQ - Marine Barrage Balloon Squadrons
- aye-aye or aye — nautical term used as a response to orders meaning "I understand the orders I have received and will carry them out"; supposedly a corruption of the words "yea, yea," a claim advanced that Cockney accents changed the "yea" to "yi", and from there to "aye".
- bag nasty — A-ration
bagged meal issued to Marines (usually recruits
or in the field) that usually contains: a sandwich
(ham, turkey, and bologna are common), a hard boiled
egg, fruit, and a small bag of potato chips; often
served with a beverage such as juice or milk.
- BAH — Basic Allowance for Housing, a pay addendum that allows a servicemember to maintain housing appropriate for his or her dependents when not living in government quarters.
- BAMCIS — mnemonic for the troop leading steps, a tactical decision making process; denotes: Begin the planning, Arrange reconnaissance, Make recon, Complete the planning, Issue order, Supervise.
- barracks — permanent living quarters, refers to dorm-like structures with individual rooms in modern times rather than the open communal squad bays of the past.
- barracks queen — woman (servicewoman or civilian) who has had sexual relations with a large number of servicemen in a unit.
- barracks rat — servicemember who rarely voluntarily leaves his or her living quarters.
- BAS — Basic Allowance for Subsistance, a pay addendum that allows a servicemember to feed his or her family in lieu of government dining facilities; Battalion Aid Station, a unit's medical post ashore for routine illnesses and injuries. See also sick bay.
- Battalion Lance Corporal — most senior non-NCO in the unit; the Lance Corporal most least likely promoted to the rank of Corporal.
- battle buddy — sarcastic euphemism deriving from orders for Marines to not go on liberty alone when stationed overseas.
- battle pin — tie clasp or tie tack, originally a metal collar bar worn on the shirt collar until the beginning of World War II.
- battle zero or BZO — settings on the sights of a rifle that allow the shooter to overcome various factors and hit accurately at a given range, used as a default before adjusting for wind or distance; also used as a verb when firing to obtain a BZO by trial and error.
- BB counter or BB stacker — servicemember whose duties relate to the storage and issue of ordnance.
- bean counter — servicemember more concerned with fiscal policy and accountability than operations; also as a pejorative for any person whose primary duties deal in money and budgeting.
- beans, bullets and bandages — expression used to refer to those things a logistician must provide his or her unit: rations, ammunition, and medical care.
- beer garden — area near a barracks set aside for the social consumption of alcohol and smoking of tobacco, may contain barbecue or picnic facilities.
- beer-thirty — time of dismissal from the day's duties (and thus allowed to drink alcohol). See also COB.
- belay — to cancel an order; to stop; to firmly secure a line.
- below — down the ladder well; below decks.
- BEQ — Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, living spaces for single enlisted Marine, usually a barracks.
- big green weenie — an expression denoting that a Marine has been "fucked over" or cheated by the Marine Corps, usually in relation to an inconvenience or unfair treatment.
- billet — specific role or job within the unit (for example, the billet of Company First Sergeant is held by the senior enlisted man of the company and acts as the commander's advisor, usually a First Sergeant, but could be a Master Sergeant or Gunnery Sergeant); not to be confused with rank, though some billets have a traditionally-held rank associated.
- binnacle list — sick list, a list of men excused from duty; traditionally, it was posted on or near the binnacle, a large stand used to house a magnetic compass and fitting.
- bird — unspecified aircraft.
- blanket party — assaulting a service member by throwing a blanket over his/her head so he/she can not identify the perpetrators.
- blouse — military dress coat or jacket; or as a verb to tuck one's trousers into boots or otherwise secure excess pants legging.
- boondocks or boonies — woods or wilds, far-away spaces, or that portion of the country which is inhospitable and fit only for military exercises; derived from the Tagalog "bundok" or mountain jungles of the Philippines.
- boondoggle — trip on government time and/or expense that serves no purpose other than to entertain the person making it.
boot — recruit, or derisive term for a Marine
just out of training.
- boots and utes or boots'n'utes — boots and utility uniform, minus the blouse; sometimes used for physical training or working in hot environments.
- boot bands or blousing bands — elastic straps or coiled springs used to roll trouser legging under at the boot and simulate tucking into the boot itself; used in blousing boots.
- BOQ — Bachelor Officer Quarters, housing for single Marine officers.
- boot camp — recruit training for enlisted Marines at Parris Island, SC and San Diego, CA; while there are several explanations for it being so named, many refer to the fact that recruits wear boots nearly every day of their training.
- box-kicker — pejorative for servicemember who works in supply, specifically, a warehouse clerk.
- brain-housing group — thought processing, used as a parallel to a rifle's trigger housing group.
- brass — brass uniform items; expended casings from weapons; term for senior officers from the metal of their rank insignia.
- brat — longtime dependent children.
- brig — prison or place of confinement aboard ship or ashore at a Marine Corps or naval station.
- brig rat — person who has served much brig time, a habitual offender.
- brightwork — brass or shiny metal, which Marines must polish.
- broke-dick — servicemember on light, limited, or no duty status for medical reasons.
- brown-bagger — a servicemember (usually married) who lives off base with his family, termed because he or she does not eat at the mess hall and must bring his/her meals with him.
- buddy-fucker or blue falcon — negligent (unintentional) or malicious (intentional) disregard for another servicemember's career, comfort, or time; often for personal gain.
- bum scoop — bad information.
- bus driver — Air Force pilot, so termed for the appearance of early USAF uniforms and the function they serve.
- butt pack — small pack worn around the belt above the buttocks, similar to Fanny pack. See also ass pack.
- by the numbers or Barney-style — to perform an action in sequence and strictly according to regulations; dummy-proof, oversimplified for the benefit of lower-intelligence people.
- "by your leave, sir/ma'am." — expression used to render respect when overtaking a senior proceeding in the same direction, in conjunction with a salute; traditionally, the senior must offer permission before the junior passes him or her.
- C & S — "Clean & Sober" notation formerly entered on the liberty list beside the names of Marines returning from liberty in that condition.
- CACO — Casualty Assistance Counseling Officer, a Marine detailed to help the family of a Marine killed, wounded, or captured in the line of duty.
- call out — to challenge, often by announcing incriminating information about a person. See also drop a dime.
- Captain's Mast — office hours afloat. The term "Captain's Mast" is almost universally negative, implying non-judicial punishment. The modern Navy and Marine Corps use the term "Meritorious Mast" to announce any ceremony involving the meritorious award of a higher rank or of a particular recognition or honor.
- carry on — order to continue after being interrupted.
- CAS — Close Air Support, aircraft fire on ground troops in support of nearby friendly troops.
- Casual Company or CasCo — a holding unit/formation of Marines awaiting one of the following: discharge from the Corps, training (usually at a formal school), or deployment to a unit.
- catwalk — walkway constructed over or around obstructions on a ship or building.
- CCU — Correctional Custody Unit, a hard-labor and heavy discipline unit overseen by MPs or Navy Masters-at-Arms to which Marines and Sailors found guilty of minor UCMJ offenses through NJP are sent for up to 30 days in lieu of confinement in the brig.
- chairborne — someone who works in an office environment.
- chalk — squad of servicemembers in an aircraft that will or have been deployed to the ground (rappelling or parachuting).
- charlies or chucks — The service "C" uniform, consisting of the short-sleeve khaki shirt and green trousers.
- chaser — contraction of prisoner-chaser, an escort for a prisoner or detail of prisoners.
- check fire — order to stop firng due to a possible error or mistarget.
— symbols of enlisted ranks above private, usually
not acceptably called "stripes" unless describing
- Chinese field day — a form of field day where every item from a room is removed for cleaning; when tending to last much longer than necessary, it is used as a punishment, typically for unsatisfactory performance in routine field day.
- chit — voucher, receipt, letter, or note, entitling the bearer to special treatment, such as medical restrictions from duty; derived from Hindi word for "letter", "chitti".
- chowhound — person who eats a great deal, or expends much effort and anticipation in daily meals.
- CIF — Consolidated Issue Facility, a place on a station where all personal equipment is stored and issued, often contracted to civilians.
- circular file — office garbage can.
- civ div — civillian life after leaving service.
- civvies — civilian clothing.
- CLP — a teflon-based cleaning and lubricating fluid used for maintaining small arms, stands for "Cleaner, Lubricant, Preservative".
- clusterfuck — chaotic and messy situation; multiple mistakes or problems happening in rapid succession. See also goat rope.
- CNN effect — fascination or disruption created by extensive, live television presence in a combat zone.
- COB — Close Of Business, the end of working hours; or Close Order Battle, a synonym for CQB. See also beer-thirty.
- CommO — Communications Officer (S-6).
- comrats or comm-rats — COMmuted RATions, an extra pay for married personnel to replace the loss of mess hall privileges.
- corpsman — Navy hospital corpsman attached to a Marine unit; also known as "doc"; inappropriate to address as "medic" or "aid man".
- cover — headgear; to align to the person in front of you in formation (regarding close order drill).
- cover and alignment — when in a formation, this refers to the proper distance between those next to, in front of, and behind a person; to seek the proper interval.
- covered and uncovered — when wearing and not wearing covers.
- CPX — Command Post eXercise, or a test of command and control capabilities.
- crew-served — short for crew-served weapon; also large and very powerful, based on a crew-served weapon being such.
- cruise — deployment aboard ship; or enlistment period, inappropriately called a stint.
- crunchy — armored term for unmounted infantry.
- CS — tear gas or 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, a white solid powder commonly used for NBC training.
- cumshaw — something extra or free; Pidgin English expression using the Chinese word for "grateful", "kamsia" and "thanks" "sia" (meaning thanks).
- D & D — Drunk and Disorderly, an entry formerly made on the liberty list beside the name of any Marine returning from liberty in that condition.
- DD-214 — discharge papers, from the form number.
- dead horse — to draw advance pay out of the normal pay cycle, the Marine is then obligated to repay the debt at the government's convenience.
- death by PowerPoint — overly long and boring brief, from the tendency of briefers to over-use the presentation software.
- deck — floor or surface of the earth; to punch or knock down with one blow.
- deep six — to dispose of by throwing overboard ship.
- defecation hits the oscillation — polite version of the expression "shit hits the fan", meaning a deranged or impossible situation; so named because feces striking a spinning fan would create a large mess.
- deuce — reference to the number two in various unit or equipment names.
- deuce gear — see 782 gear, from the last digit in that term.
- devil dogging — correcting another Marine's minor deficiency, often in public with implied humiliation.
- devil pup — nickname for a Marine's child(ren); or a patronizing nickname for a junior Marine
- DI hut or duty hut — office for drill instructors in a platoon's squad bay, doubles as sleeping quarters for the drill instructor on duty.
- dickskinner or dickbeater — human hand.
- diddy bop — poor performance in close order drill, or marching in a manner that does not present a crisp military appearance.
- DIET — Deep Infiltration and Extraction Team, to "leap frog" across great distances by utilizing helicopters as ground refueling points to perform special missions; later known as FARP.
- digis or diggis — digital camouflage such as MARPAT; also refers to the digital-patterned MCCUU.
- Doc — Navy hospital corpsman attached to the Marines, can be combined with "devil dog" to become "devil doc".
- dog — small metal fitting used to secure watertight doors, hatches, covers, scuttles, etc; also, to close/secure such door/hatch; also, slang for Marine, from the term Devil Dog.
- dog and pony show — any display, demonstration, or appearance by Marines at the request of seniors for the pleasure of someone else, such as a ceremony or parade; also, pejorative for the requirement for over-perfection of such a venue.
- donkey dick — slang for a virtually any piece of equipment which has a generally cylindrical shape, roughly one foot in length, with no or an unknown official name.
- dope — information, or sight settings and/or wind corrections for a rifle under given conditions.
- down-range — dangerous area, from the portion of a shooting range that receives impacts; also the execution of a plan.
- drop a dime — to reveal incriminating information about a person. See also call out.
- dry fire — practice firing of a weapon without using ammunition in order to refine body position and other shooting fundamentals.
- DTG — Date-Time Group, a numeric code denoting the time and date of a message.
- dummy cord — lanyard or tether used to secure a piece of equipment to an anchor to prevent losing it.
- duty or duty NCO — sentry responsible for patrol and security of a specific area (usually a barracks and/or working space in garrison). See also fire watch & OOD
- EAS — End of Active Service, the date of discharge from active duty.
- eightball — worthless, troublesome individual.
- EM — Enlisted Marine/Man, very inappropriate to use today.
- elephant hat — pith helmet issued in 1940 and worn by rifle range coaches today
- EOD — Explosive Ordnance Disposal, responsible for the safe handling, deactivation, and removal of unexploded ordnance, the military version of a bomb squad.
- EPD — Extra Punitive Duties, punishment assigned where the individual is required to perform cleaning duties after working hours (on his or her liberty time).
- FAP — Fleet Assistance Program, a program designed to assign Marines to extra duties outside of his or her normal chain of command.
- FARP — Forward Area Refueling/Rearming Point or Forward Arming Refueling Point, a space on the battlefield designated for the re-arming and re-fueling of aircraft.
- fart sack — sleeping bag; linen a mattress is inserted into.
- fat-body — overweight recruit or servicemember.
- feather merchant — Marine of slight build, lightweight.
- FEBA — Forward Edge of the Battle Area, the line of departure where a unit enters enemy territory.
- field day — day or portion of day set aside for general cleanup or police of an organization's area or barracks rooms; also as a verb for the act of conducting a field day.
- field expediency — improvisation, to make due to with what's is available.
- field hat — campaign cover, a broad-brimmed felt hat, originally with one straight crease down the middle, then with a Montana peak, worn on expeditionary missions from 1912 to 1942, and then again authorized in 1961 for wear at recruit depots by drill instructors and rifle ranges by marksmanship instructors. See also campaign cover, hat, & smokey bear/brown.
- field meet — organized sporting competition, often involving athletics and/or soldierly skills.
- field music — drummer, trumpeter, bugler, fifer; mostly an antiquated term.
- field scarf — khaki uniform necktie.
- field-strip — to disassemble a piece of ordnance or weapon to the major part groups for routine cleaning or lubricating; to strip cigarette butts to their filters before throwing away.
- fighting hole — a defensive position dug into the ground; can be dug for one Marine, a pair, or a weapon crew; once known as a "foxhole".
- file 13 — paper shredder.
- final protective line — the perimeter at which the enemy has begun to overrun friendly troops, signals the commencement of final protective fire in desperate self-defense.
- finding — significant discrepancy found during an inspection.
- fire for effect — indicates that the adjustment/ranging of indirect fire is satisfactory and the actual effecting rounds should be fired; also a euphemism for the execution of a plan.
- fire watch — sentry on duty specifically guarding a person, place, object, or area in a non-combat area (such as a barracks); considered under arms but usually unarmed. See also duty & OOD.
- fire watch medal — pejorative for National Defense Service Medal, so named because even recruits rate it despite firewatch being thier most important duty.
- fitness report or fitrep — report written on Marines (sergeant and above) detailing proficiency and conduct and fitness for command, reviewed for promotion.
- float — deployment aboard ship.
- FMF or fleet — Fleet Marine Forces, the operational forces of the Corps, as opposed to reserve or supporting establishment.
- FNG — Fucking New Guy, derogatory term for a Marine recently graduated recruit training and new to a unit.
- FOD walk — organized effort to find and remove potentially damaging objects from a flight area.
- form ID-10T or ID-ten-tango form — prank fool's errand where an unsuspecting Marine is asked to find the fake form, not knowing it is an orthograph for "idiot".
- Fortitudine — former motto of the Corps in the 19th century (replaced by Semper Fidelis), from the Latin word for "fortitude".
- four-deuce — 4.2 in. (107-mm) mortar.
- foxhole — fighting hole as termed by the Army and Marines of the past, no longer appropriate for Marine use.
- FRAGO — FRAGmentary Order, an addendum to published operational orders.
- frock — to be authorized to wear the next higher grade before promotion, confers authority but not pay grade.
- FUBAR — Fucked/Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition/Repair. See also SNAFU.
- gagglefuck — group of Marines grouped too closely or in an unorganized fashion; from gaggle, the term for a flock of grounded geese, and clusterfuck, a term for a messy situation.
- gangway — ship's passageway; also used to order juniors to give way to seniors in passageways, and particularly when going up and down ladders.
- garrison — in addition to the traditional meaning, an adjective referring to not being deployed or deployable, such as buildings at a unit's home base.
- gear — property or equipment; usually referring to an individual's combat equipment.
- gear adrift — gear found left lying around, from the saying "gear adrift, must be a gift!".
- geedunk — candy and other sweets. See also pogey bait.
- general mess — enlisted mess.
- get some — spirited cry expressing approval and the desire for more or to continue, traditionally associated in the Vietnam War to killing or sex.
- GI — Government Issue; formerly a term for a servicemember, but now describes being squared-away or the government's idea of an ideal servicemember.
- GI house — place where garbage is stored until it is hauled away.
- gizmo — miscellaneous, nondescript, unidentified gadget or tool.
- go-fasters — running shoes or sneakers, named so because they help a person run faster than boots.
- goat rope — chaotic and messy situation. See also cluster fuck.
- good to go — expression denoting that difficulties will be overcome.
— All Purpose Environmental Clothing System (APECS),
a cold/wet weather protective parka and trousers,
based on the Extended
Cold Weather Clothing System, usually in reference
to the parka; from the fabric it is made from.
- gouge — information or news. See also word.
- gourd or grape — pejorative for human head.
- GOV or govvie — Government Owned Vehicle, as opposed to POV.
- grab-ass — horseplay, loafing, lounging.
- grid squares — marked reference lines on a map; often used as a prank fool's errand where an unsuspecting Marine is asked to find a box of them when they don't physically exist.
- ground guide — person who walks in front of a vehicle in order to detect and avoid obstacles and guide the driver to the proper spot.
- grunt or ground pounder — infantryman, formerly a pejorative that has taken more neutral tones.
- gunner — abbreviation of Marine Gunner, the title for line warrant officers, designated as experts in various combat arms and tactics, signified by a bursting bomb designation; used informally to refer to the Officer In Charge if he or she is of warrant officer rank.
- Gunny rolls — poorly-rolled sleeves on the MCCUU, so named from the tendency for some older Marines to take a sloppier approach to uniforms.
- gyrene — Vietnam-era nickname for Marine, often thought an insult; combination of the words "GI" and "Marine".
— position of the ensign when hoisted halfway, usually
done in respect to a deceased person; also called
"half-staff" amongst non-naval forces.
- hard charger — term of endearment from a senior to a junior Marine when he or she completes a difficult task, so named for charging through the assignment.
- hashmark — service stripe worn on the uniform sleeve by enlisted men and women for completion of four years of honorable service in any of the U.S. Armed Services and Reserves.
- hatch — door; more specifically, the watertight cover over an opening between compartments or that leads to the ladder wells between decks of a ship.
- HBT — HerringBone Twill; the cotton material of Marine utilities from 1941 to the late 1950s.
- HDR — Humanitarian Daily Ration, a variation of the MRE used to feed a single malnourished person for one day with 2,300 calories.
- headgear — hats, helmets, caps, etc.
- head — bathroom or latrine, a nautical term from the days of sailing ships when the designated place to defecate and urinate was forward, at the bow or "head" of the ship.
- heavy hat — junior drill instructor who performs more discipline and punishment tasks than his peers.
- HEDP — High-Explosive Dual Purpose, type of armor piercing ammunition.
- high and right — losing one's temper or rationality; from the common error of a poor shooter to jerk the trigger and impact the upper right side of a target.
- high-speed — new, interesting, or cool; often used to sarcastically denote that the subject looks good, but performance is dubious.
- homeslice — person, often a sarcastic overture to civilians from a drill instructor; from the terms homie and homeboy.
- homesteading — remaining at one duty station for an extended tour or consecutive tours.
- hooch — tent, hut, or otherwise temporary or ramshackle dwelling.
- hump — carry or lift a load, originally an Australian term meaning "to carry one's swag,"; also a forced march carrying full equipment loads.
- hurry up and wait — expression denoting inefficient time management or planning, often when a senior rushes a unit into a situation too fast that subsequently makes them wait.
- huss — to give a helping hand, so named because the H-34 Choctaw helicopter's utility configuration was designated as the "HUS-1 Seahorse," leading to Vietnam-era Marines that needed a medical evacuation helicopter to ask for or to be "cut a huss".
- I & I — Inspector-Instructor, an active duty Marine assigned to supervise the training of a reserve unit.
- IAW — In Accordance With, term often used to denote compliance with published orders or procedures.
IED — Improvised
Explosive Device, bomb constructed, set, and
detonated in unconventional warfare; the acronym
can be modified to denote a specific type of IED
(such as VBIED, a Vehicle Borne IED).
- IG Inspection — official inspection of a command or unit by the IG or his representatives.
- Irish pennant or IP — loose thread, string, or strap on a uniform or equipment that detracts from a perfect appearance.
- IRR — Individual Ready Reserve, branch of the reserve that most former servicemembers fall under upon the end of active service, may be called to involuntarily return to active status.
- jarhead — pejorative term for a Marine. Jarhead has several supposed origins: the regulation "High and Tight" haircut resembles a mason jar (to add insult, some note that the jar is an empty vessel, also therefore a Marine's head an empty vessel); the Mason Jar Company stopped making jars and made the helmets for Marines during World War II.
- Jesus slippers or Jesus boots — government-issue sandals or flip-flops for sanitation in showers. See also shower shoes.
- JTF — Joint Task Force, a provisional unit or formation from more than one branch of service.
- junk on bunk — inspection where all uniforms and equipment to be displayed is lain on the Marine's rack.
- kelly helmet or K-pot — 1917-model basin helmet worn during World War I until 1942.
- keyboard jockey — person whose job causes him or her use a computer for a length of time.
- ladder well — stairway or ladder connecting different decks of a ship, so named because naval stairs tend to be so steep as to almost be vertical.
- laminated — perceived semi-permanent state of issue for a normally temporary status.
- LBV — Load Bearing Vest, personal equipment used to keep the most commonly used items within easy reach utilizing the PALS, usually a component of MOLLE or ILBE.
— antiquated nickname for Marine, so named for legends
stating that stiff leather collars were once worn
to protect the throat from sword-blows (also thought
that high stocks were worn for discipline, to keep
Marines' heads high and straight). The dress
blue uniform still bears a high stock collar
today. Also, Leatherneck
- leggings — leg coverings made of canvas with eyelets and laces or buckles to secure the trouser legs over shoes.
- liberty — authorized free time ashore or off station, not counted as leave, known in the Army as a "pass".
- liberty list — list containing the names of Marines entitled to liberty and those employed by the guard during the liberty period (and thus not entitled to leave post).
- lifer — career servicemember, as opposed to one who serves for a single enlistment.
- lifertool — multi-tool, so named because a lifer would inevitably need a tool of such utility.
- Lima Charlie or lickin' chicken — Loud and Clear, an expression meaning that the communication has been received and understood; originally exclusive to radio traffic.
- line company — lettered Marine companies or the aviation term for ground units, originally, an infantry company.
- lollygag — dawdle or fool about.
- long handles — long sleeved/legged undershirt/shorts.
- lost lieutenant finder — hand-held GPS unit, a joke term on the reputation for new lieutenants to be incompetent in land navigation.
- LT — abbreviation for lieutenant, inappropriate to address as such verbally.
- M — a prefix to the model number of a specific nomenclature of equipment, generally considered to denote "model" or "mark".
- ma'am — proper method of addressing female officers in particular and all women in general.
- Mac Marine — nickname for Marine, popular during World War II, also the career planner popular on posters of the 1960s.
- Maggie's drawers — red flag attached to a pole, used to signal a miss on the rifle range, replaced by a red disk.
- Major — a Captain in command of a ship's Marine detachment, so titled because a ship may have only one Captain, the commanding officer.
- Mama-san — term of endearment for an elder Japanese woman, often a maid, cook, or tailor/seamstress performing services for Marines; from the Japanese honorific suffix "san".
- MARINE — Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Non-Essential, pejorative backronym used by other branches.
- Marine — the following nicknames are usually acceptable: leatherneck, devil dog, sea soldier, warrior, hardcharger, motivator; the following are acceptable from other Marines: jarhead, gyrene; the following are insults: soldier, seabag.
- MBT — Main Battle Tank, currently the M1 Abrams.
- meat gazer — urinalysis observer who observes the servicemember peeing into the sample container to prevent tampering with the sample.
- MEDEVAC or Medivac — Medical Evacuation, removing a wounded person to the closest medical or triage facility, often by helicopter.
- Mickey Mouse boots — boots designed for extreme cold weather using an air bladder for insulation, so named for their oversized and bloated appearance.
- military time — the time of day on a 24 hour clock. General Wallace M. Greene Jr., 23rd Commandant of the Marine Corps (1964-1967), forbade the practice of suffixing the unnecessary word "hours" after each indication of time of day ("1330" or "thirteen-thirty" instead of "1330 hours"); the practice of saying "oh" instead of "zero" for hours before 1000 has diminished as well.
- Miss — antiquated naval custom of addressing female officers lieutenants and below, along with warrant officers.
- Mister — antiquated naval custom of addressing male officers lieutenants and below, along with warrant officers.
- monkey suit — military uniforms in general; originally, the fur suit used by aviators at high altitudes.
- motivator — term of endearment from a senior to a junior Marine, so named when the junior displays motivation for his or her duties.
- moto — motivated/motivating, often use to describe a person, object, or event that would motivate an individual Marine.
- motarded — displaying excess motivation, often in the form of visual symbols and lore (such as unit logos); a combination of the terms "moto" and "retarded".
- MOS — Military Occupational Specialty, a job classification.
- MRE bomb — bursting plastic bag made from chemical heating pouches found inside of a standard MRE.
- MTO — Motor Transport Officer, the Marine in charge of maintenance and operation of a unit's trucks.
- NAVY — Never Again Volunteer Yourself, pejorative backronym used by sailors who regret volunteering.
- NJP — NonJudicial Punishment, a legal proceeding much like a court-martial of much smaller scope. A commanding officer is authorized to award summary punishments at office hours (called Captain's Mast afloat) under Article 15, UCMJ, to punish offenses too serious to be dealt with by a mere rebuke, but not serious enough to warrant court-martial.
- no impact, no idea — expression denoting a miss on a weapons range (the scorer cannot find an impact on target); also used as an "I don't know" response.
- nut to butt — standing in line extremely close to the person in front, often required in recruit training.
- O-dark thirty — very early hours before dawn. See also military time. The custom of saying "oh" instead of zero has diminished, but remains in this expression.
- office hours — administrative ceremony where legal, disciplinary, and other matters (such as praise, special requests, etc.) are attended, designed to dramatize praise and admonition, in a dignified, disciplined manner, out of the ordinary routine. Known as Captain's Mast afloat. An award given during a positive office hours or Mast is known as a Meritorious Mast, a negative office hours with punishment awarded is an example of Nonjudicial punishment.
- officers' club or officers' mess or O-Club — recreation facility for officers that often includes a bar, restaurant, game room, and objects of unit significance, such as a mascot or war trophy; similar to a gentlemen's club.
- officers' country — living spaces for officers aboard ship, or portion of post or station allocated for the exclusive use of officers.
- OFP — Own Fucking Program, not complying perfectly or synchronized with orders assigned to a group.
- OJT — On-the-Job Training, without a formal school or period of instruction.
- old Asia hand — person with more than one tour in Asia.
- Old Man — very informal nickname for the commanding officer, considered an inappropriate term of endearment for use by a junior, thus used in reference but never in address.
- OMPF — Official Military Personnel File, a record of all awards, punishments, training, and other records compiled by Headquarters Marine Corps.
- oorah or ooh rah or Urah — spirited cry used since the mid-20th century, comparable to Hooah used in the Army or Hooyah by Navy SEALs; most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm. The origin is often disputed.
- OPSEC — Operation(s/al) Security, counterintelligence efforts to keep generally unclassified but sensitive information (such as troop movements and deployments) from enemies.
- OPTEMPO — OPerational TEMPO, or the pace of operations and activities for a given unit.
- OOB — Out Of Bounds, or straying into an area restricted from use by normal traffic, prohibited to Marines, or too far from base for a given liberty period.
- OOD — Officer Of the Deck, or the senior Marine responsible for the patrol and security of a unit's garrison working spaces and sleeping quarters after working hours, usually responsible for subordinate sentries and acts as a guard commander. See also duty & firewatch
- Oscar Mike — On the Move, the names of the two NATO phonetic alphabet letters O and M which stand for the phrase. Used on the radio and in shorthand to each other. See also NATO phonetic alphabet
- outside — civilian life after discharge. See also real world.
- over the hill — excessively old; or to the desert.
- Page 11 — NAVMC 118(11), a page of a Marine's Service Record Book or Officer Qualification Record where administrative remarks are made concerning a Marine's performance and conduct, and which may contain negative recommendations regarding promotion or re-enlistment; while not a punishment itself or inherently negative, it is part of a Marine's permanent service record and used as a basis for administrative decisions regarding a Marine's career; the term commonly refers to an entry itself made in this section.
- parade ground/field/deck — area set aside for the conduct of parades, drill, and ceremonies, often paved or well-maintained lawn. See also grinder.
- passageway — corridor or hallway.
- passed over — having failed selection for the next higher rank (for SNCOs and officers).
- pay grade — DOD system of designating a U.S. serviceperson's pay (E-1 through E-9, WO-1 through CW-5, and O-1 through O-10), not to be confused with rank (though the two usually correspond) or billet.
- PCP — Physical Conditioning Program, exercise regimen for Marines failing to meet the minimum physical requirements; also Physical Conditioning Platoon, for the unit where a physically unfit recruit is sent prior to recruit training, nicknamed Pork Chop Platoon.
- PFT — Physical Fitness Test, a semiannual test measuring strength, agility, and endurance by scoring performance in pull-ups (flexed-arm hang for females), abdominal crunches, and a 3-mile run.
- phone watch — duty where a Marine is responsible for answering phones when others are busy or unavailable (such as lunch hours); also the person filling the duty.
- pinning — promotion by pinning the new rank insignia onto the MCCUU collar; also a form of hazing by striking the pins into the wearer's chest.
- platoon sergeant — SNCO executive to the platoon commander, usually the senior enlisted man.
- POC — Point Of Contact, the person to liaison with on a given matter.
- poguey or pogey bait — Candy or sweets. See also geedunk.
- police — to pick up items (such as litter or expended ammunition casings), to return an area to a natural state.
- pot shack — place where cooking utensils are washed.
- POV — Privately/Personally Owned Vehicle, as opposed to a GOV.
- prick — slang for any equipment bearing the "PRC" JETDS designator, usually man-portable radios.
- property shed — place where organizational property is stored, often a warehouse.
- pucker factor — high level of anxiety experienced by those in tight situations, usually aircrew.
- PX — Post eXchange, a term borrowed from the Army; more properly the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX).
- QRF — Quick Reaction Force, a highly-mobile stand-by force designed to add firepower in precise places as the commander decides on a changing battlefield, often used for MEDEVAC purposes.
- quarter deck — a location of prominence in a barracks or office; in recruit training, this area by the drill instructor's office is usually off-limits to recruits except during ceremonial discipline; the term comes from the quarter deck of a ship defined as "the part of the upper deck abaft the mainmast, including the poop deck when there is one. Usually reserved for ship's officers, guests, and passengers."
- quarterdecking — being punished at recruit training by means of repetitive and constant physical exercises, so named because it is usually a recruit's only opportunity to visit the quarter deck.
- quarters — housing, whether bachelor (barracks) or family (government-leased apartments or houses); or periodic, muster of a ship's company.
- quatrefoil — four-pointed embroidered pattern stiched on to the top of a Marine officer's barracks cover, from the tradition of wearing it to be identified as friendly to Marine sharpshooters during boarding actions in the era of wooden sailing ships.
- R&R — Rest and Relaxation, authorized absence from a combat area to reduce the effects of combat stress reaction.
- R/S — Respectfully Submitted, used as an end greeting in written communication.
- rack or sack — bed, inappropriate to use the Army term "bunk" except when used in conjunction with "junk on the bunk".
- radio watch — duty monitoring radio networks for relevant traffic, also; the person filling that duty.
- ranks — There are no acceptable contractions or shortened ways of addressing the following: Private, Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer/Chief Warrant Officer, Major, Colonel, and General. The following may be addressed with permission or informally: Private First Class as "Private", a Gunnery Sergeant as "Gunny", a Master Sergeant or First Sergeant as "top", a Master Gunnery Sergeant as "Master Gunny", a Second Lieutenant or First Lieutenant as "Lieutenant", a Captain as "Skipper", a Lieutenant Colonel as "Colonel", and a Brigadier General, Major General, and Lieutenant General as "General". It is inappropriate to abbreviate an enlisted Marine's rank (Staff Sergeant or above) as "Sergeant," nor can the nickname "sarge" be used. Appropriate written abbreviations for all ranks can be found on United States Marine Corps rank insignia.
- ratfuck — taking the best available selection and leaving less desirable alternatives for others.
- real world — civilian life after discharge. See also outside.
- REMF — Rear Echelon Mother Fucker, a derision for someone who serves in a non-combatant role.
- Red Patch — device worn on the uniforms of landing support Marines to distinguish the shore party from landing troops.
- regulation — to be in accordance with regulations or adopted specifications or issued from government sources.
- Remington raider — a typist or clerk in an administration billet.
- request mast — appealing to increasingly higher links in the chain of command in order to seek satisfaction for a grievance the requester feels was not adequately handled at a lower level; DoN orders permit any Marine to request mast up to the individual's commanding general without repercussions.
- re-up — reenlist, volunteering for an additional period of service.
- RHIP — Rank Hath Its Privileges, used as a justification for a personal indulgence.
- roach coach — mobile (usually truck-mounted) store selling junk food.
- rock happy — eccentric or mildly deranged as a result of long overseas duty at a remote station (traditionally an island).
- rotate — return home at the end of a deployment.
- ROE — Rules Of Engagement, the restrictions on when and how a servicemember may use force on the enemy and other forces.
- running lights — navigational night lights on a ship; Marine's eyes.
- SACO — Substance Abuse Control Officer, a Marine responsible for the initial screening and evaluation of a Marine or sailor with alcoholism or illegal drug use issues to the proper medical facilities for rehabilitation & treatment.
- S/F — abbreviation for Semper Fidelis when used as an end greeting in written communication.
- sailor — the following nicknames are usually acceptable: bluejacket, tar; while the following are considered insults: gob, swab, swabbie, squid, anchor clanker, rust picker, deck ape.
salad or tossed salad or fruit
salad — ribbons
and medals worn on a uniform, from the colorful
appearance of wearing many awards.
- salt — old naval term for an experienced or well-worn person or object, from the salt that would accumulate form salt water. Can also be used as an adjective, to call someone or something salty.
- SALUTE — mnemonic device for a situation report, denotes: Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Time, and Equipment.
- say again — request to repeat a statement, question, or order, especially over a radio; the word "repeat" is never used, as it calls for a preceding fire mission to be fired again.
- schmuckatelli — generic, unnamed junior Marine, from the Yiddish pejorative schmuck.
- SCIF — Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a place classified materials are processed and/or stored.
- scrambled eggs — gold oak leaf embroidery found on an officer's barracks cap visor and mess dress cuffs.
- scrounge — appropriate, borrow, or acquire (possibly by doubtful means); derived from "scringe," meaning to search about, rummage, or pilfer.
- scullery — place where dishes are washed.
- scuttlebutt — gossip; or a drinking fountain, from "butt" (cask) and "scuttle" (make a hole in a ship's side, causing it to sink), a cask that had an opening fitted with a spigot used to contain fresh water for drinking purposes. Because people gathered around a scuttlebutt, gossip, rumors, and sea stories are also known as scuttlebutt.
seabag or sea bag — duffel
bag used to carry one's personal belongings.
- seabag drag — manually carrying personal items (often within seabags) to new or temporary living quarters.
- sea lawyer — person who dispenses legal advice without any sort of formal training or schooling, inappropriately called a "barracks lawyer".
- sea story — story, tale, or yarn calculated to impress others, often contains exaggeration or even outright lies.
- secure — stop, cease; or put away and lock.
- Semper Fi — shortened version of "Semper Fidelis", the motto of the Corps, Latin for "always faithful".
- semper pie — condition where the mess hall serves similar items repetitively.
- shit bird — habitually unkempt or undisciplined Marine.
- shit-brick — useless or ignorant person.
- shit-hot — sarcastic reference to an overly arrogant person.
- shooter — person whose primary duty involves marksmanship with a rifle or pistol, such as students at a rifle range or competition team members.
- shore party — landing support specialists that direct the disposition of troops during an amphibious assualt.
- short-timer — person nearing the completion of his/her present tour of duty or enlistment.
- short-timer's disease — apathy to duties and regulations from a person nearing EAS.
- shove off — to leave the vicinity, from the naval term meaning to guide a ship to sea.
- shower shoes — pair of rubber sandals issued to recruits to prevent infections from the use of community or shared showers. See also Jesus shoes.
- sick bay — infirmary or other medical facility aboard ship, can also refer to aid stations ashore. See also BAS.
- sick call — daily period when routine ailments are treated at sick bay.
- side arms — weapon (usually a pistol) carried by a sentry under arms; also, cream and sugar in coffee.
- sight in — aim a weapon at a target using the sights, considered an intention to shoot the target.
- skate — avoiding work by finding an excuse to be elsewhere or unavailable by doing something easier (but important enough to avoid re-tasking); also used as an adjective to describe such an easier duty.
- skipper — nickname for captain (whether Marine or Navy rank), derived from the Scandinavian word for ship, "schiffe", and the Dutch word for captain, "schipper". Inappropriate to refer to a commanding officer that is not your own or without permission.
skivvies — underwear: skivvie shirt (T-shirt)
and skivvie drawers (underwear).
|recruits wearing skivvies
- skylark — to casually frolic or take excess time to complete a task, from the old naval term to run up and down the rigging of a ship in sport.
- slop chute — impolite term for restaurant within the PX or beer garden.
- SMEAC — mnemonic for the five paragraph order, a method of clearly issuing complex orders; denotes: Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration & Logistics, Command & Signal.
- smokin' and jokin' — when a mass of Marines is acting unproductive.
- SNAFU — Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. See also FUBAR.
- snap in — conduct sighting in or aiming exercises with an unloaded weapon.
- snow job — misleading or grossly exaggerated report; sales talk.
- SOS — international distress signal; or Shit On a Shingle, creamed beef on toast.
- spit and polish — extreme individual or collective military neatness, extreme devotion to the minutiae of traditional military procedures and/or ceremonies; from spit-polishing boots and dress shoes.
- spit-shine — polish leather footwear (boots and dress shoes), employing spittle to remove excess grease and produce a high polish.
- splice of the mainbrace — invitation to drink, from the old naval custom of drinking grog after repairing battle-damage to the main braces.
- spud locker — place where fresh vegetables are stored, after the nickname for potatoes.
- squadbay — living quarters with open rooms and shared head, as opposed to the more common barracks that offer individual rooms.
- square(d) away — make neat and regulation appearance, to be in a neat and regulation appearance.
- SRB — Service Record Book, an administrative record of an enlisted Marine's personal information, promotions, postings, deployments, punishments, and emergency data; much like an officer's OQR.
- SSDD — Same Shit, Different Day, euphemism denoting frustration with an unchanging situation or boredom.
- stacking swivel — oblong-shaped link with an opening screwed to the rifle that allowed other rifles to be hooked and stacked (the M1 Garand was the last service rifle to have a stacking swivel, this function is now held by the weapon's sling); a person's throat.
- stand by — wait, stop and wait.
- the suck — miserable situation or place, often used to describe the Marine Corps or a combat zone.
- survey — medical discharge or to effect discharge/retirement of an individual for medical reasons; dispose of an item of government property by reason of unserviceability.
- swab — mop; also pejorative for sailor, so named because sailors of wooden ships had to swab the decks to keep them from warping.
- swaggar stick — antiquated symbol of authority long out of style.
- swamp-ass — unpleasant collection of sweat soaking undergarments.
- swinging dick — vulgarity for male Marine, used to emphasize an order to a whole group instead of individual(s).
- swoop — make a long trip in a short period of time, usually in reference to returning to post after liberty to avoid an UA status.
- sympathy chit — voucher sarcastically authorizing the recipient sympathy from others.
- TAD — Temporary Additional Duty, a duty where the Marine or Sailor is detached from his or her unit temporarily and serves elsewhere; comparable to the Army term TDY.
- tie-ties — straps or strings used to tie items to another line, such as laundry or rifle targets.
- tight-jawed — angry, so named from the human tendency to clench the jaw when angered.
- tip of the spear — term for a unit or subunit that enters enemy territory first.
- T/O&E — Table of Operations and Equipment, a list authorizing a unit personnel of a particular rank and MOS, as well as organic equipment; often seen separately as T/O and T/E.
— informal nickname for a Master
Sergeant, inappropriate to use without permission.
- topside — ship's upper deck.
- tore up — broken, messy, unserviceable.
- TRAM — Tractor, Rubber-tired, Articulated steering, Multi-purpose.
- T-rat — Tray ration, nickname for Unitized Group Ration, a ration heated and served to a group of servicemembers.
- trooper — soldier, considered an insult to refer to a Marine unless plural.
- troops — generic group of servicemembers.
- two-block — hoist a flag or pennant to the peak, truck, or yardarm of a staff; or a tie with the knot positioned exactly in the gap of a collar of a buttoned shirt.
- UD — Unit Diary, the computerized system that maintains all administrative records for a unit.
- un-ass or un-fuck — to correct a deficiency, usually on a person.
- under arms — status of having a weapon, sidearm, "MP" or "SP" brassard, or wearing equipment pertaining to an arm such as a sword sling, pistol belt, or cartridge belt as part of guard duty; Marines under arms do not remove covers indoors.
- under canvas — living under temporary sheltering, such as a tent.
- under way — to depart or to start a process for an objective.
- unq — unqualified, usually in reference to training events.
- unsat — abbreviation of unsatisfactory.
- USMC — Acronym for United States Marine Corps. Also used as a pejorative backronym: Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, U Signed the Motherfucking Contract, U Suckers Miss Christmas.
- USO — United Service Organizations Inc., private, nonprofit organization that provides morale and recreational services to members of the U.S. military worldwide.
- watch — formal tour of duty of prescribed length, usually a guard-related task.
- water buffalo or water bull — 400-gallon potable water tank, trailer-mounted, towed behind a truck.
- wet down — serve drinks in honor of one's promotion to the SNCO ranks, so named for the tradition of wetting the promotion warrant with drinks.
- willie peter bag — waterproof bag.
- wing wiper — aviation person, usually a maintenance person and not a pilot.
- winger — aviation Marine.
- the wire — defensive perimeter of a firm base, crossing it denotes the end of relative safety.
- word — general term for instructions, orders, and information that is required for all members of a unit to know; or the act of passing information to a collected group of servicemembers. See also gouge.
- WM — Woman Marine, usually considered an offensive term.
- work your bolt — resort to special measures, either by energy or guile, in order to attain a particular end; from the action of racking a rifle's bolt to clear a stoppage.
Published - September 2008
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