Drill Sergeant Shouting Stirling Castle Guardsman Guard (Crown Copyright Mark Owens, MoD)

British military slang or phrases you need to know

Drill Sergeant Shouting Stirling Castle Guardsman Guard (Crown Copyright Mark Owens, MoD)

If you are struggling to understand the military language your son, daughter, mother, father or an ex-military colleague is using. Here is your go-to guide/dictionary of all the words and phrases that you will ever need to know.

What would you add to this list?

1. ‘Ally’

A word which describes how cool someone or their equipment looks, usually their battlefield fashion. Those serving in the special forces have automatic ‘ally’ status.

2. ‘Threaders’

Angry or fed up.

3. ‘Hoofing’ 

Excellent or amazing.

4. ‘Gleaming’

To describe something as good, desirable or brilliant. A particular favourite of the Guards Division. If something is ‘gleaming’ you’re probably onto a good thing.

5. ‘Dhobi Dust’

(Navy/Army/RAF) Slang term for washing powder. The Indian word 'dobi' meaning 'washing' or 'laundry' has been used ever since the British military were stationed there.

'Egg Banjo' Sandwich
'Egg Banjo' Sandwich
Picture: rawpixel.com

6. ‘Egg Banjo’

A fried egg sandwich, so called because when it is eaten, generally with the one hand that is free, egg yolk squirts onto the eater's shirt/jacket resulting in them raising their sandwich to approximately ear height while they attempt to ‘strum’ the egg from their shirt with their free hand.

7. ‘Gash’

(Navy/Army/RAF) slang for waste/discard able items such as food wrappers.

8. ‘Gen’

Slang for genuine: ‘What’s the gen?’ - What’s the true gossip?

9, ‘Jack’

Workshy or selfish person. For example ‘He's Jack as f***.’

10. ‘KFS’

Knife, fork and spoon.

Digging out warrior vehicle

11. ‘Beasted’ 

The excessive use of drill/marching at speed or physical training/running for an extended period of time, designed to wear down an individual, sometimes used as a punishment.

12. ‘Civi, civy or civvy’

Slang for civilian - a member of the public that doesn’t serve within the Armed Forces.

13. ‘Crow’

A derogatory term derived from the First World War, which refers to a new recruit or inexperienced soldier or Combat Recruit of War. The title is given to the newest members of a regiment.

14. ‘Buckshee’

Slang for a spare item of equipment, something easy or free, for example - ‘I've just got a buckshee pair of boots’.

15. ‘Daysack’

Small backpack which contains all the essentials to keep a person sustained for a short period of time. Although there’s still the question, ‘can a daysack be used at night?’.

Parachute Regiment Laser Light Module Mk 3 SA-80 Mk2 Maroon Beret Defence Images

16. ‘Crap hat’

A derogatory term used by members of the Parachute Regiment to describe a person who belongs to any other regiment or unit than their own.

17. ‘Dit’

(Army/Navy) a story – usually an exaggerated story.

18. ‘Doss Bag’

(Royal Marines/Army) Sleeping bag.

19. ‘Oggin’

(Royal Navy/Royal Marines) water. In the ‘Oggin’ - at sea or in the water.

20. ‘Pull up a sandbag’

(Army) To tell a story – usually someone telling an unwarranted war story. For example - ‘Pull up a sandbag … so this one time in Afghanistan…’

21. ‘Green time machine'

A sleeping bag

22. ‘Redders’

Word meaning hot or warm. For example - ‘I’m redders today, I need to go cool down.’

23. ‘Walt or Walter Mitty’

A fantasist who makes up stories about their time in service, or a civilian pretending to have been a member of the Armed Forces.

24. 'Badmin’ 

Word used to describe a person with bad administration or poor organisation skills.

25. ‘End Ex’

Every soldiers favourite word, meaning the exercise or event is over and they can have a shower for the first time in weeks.

Warrior AFV Picture Julian Perreira
"Endex" Picture Julian Perreira

26. ‘Scoff’

Army slang for food. For example - ‘I’m starving, let’s go get some scoff.’

27. ‘Cookhouse’

Canteen where the Army goes to eat.

28. ‘Scran’

(Royal Navy/Royal Marines) slang for food. ‘I’m starving, let’s go get some scran’.

29. ‘Galley’

Canteen on board a ship where the Royal Navy goes to eat.

30. ‘Stag’

Guard duty

31. ‘NAAFI’

Short for Navy, Army and Air Force Institute – a place where members of the Armed Forces go to buy sweets, crisps, snacks, tea/coffee. For example - ‘let’s take a NAAFI break.’

32. ‘Scale A Parade’

A parade/gathering where every person available in the regiment is to attend at a specific time and date, no exceptions or excuses.

33. ‘Chin-strapped’

Meaning very tired or lack of sleep.

34. ‘Bone’

A term for something pointless, anything can be seen as ‘bone’. For example - ‘This is bone, what a waste of everyone’s time.’

35. ‘You’re in your own time now’

The polite way of saying ‘You’re not going anywhere until this is done’ and ‘I don't care if you’ve got partners to go home to.’

Scale A parade
"Scale A Parade"

36. ‘TAB’

(Army) acronym for ‘Tactical Advance to Battle’, a forced march carrying a heavy backpack over a long distance, usually ending in a battle or training.

37. ‘Yomp’

(Royal Marine) slang for a forced march with a heavy load usually a long distance.

38. ‘Hanging out’

Suffering badly. For example ‘I'm hanging out after the yomp/TAB.’

39. ‘Recce’

Reconnaissance. For example - ‘let’s go recce that pub and see what it's like.’

40. ‘Marking time’

Unpleasant drill movement where a person remains static while moving their legs up and down in one spot. It can also mean you or your career is not going anywhere.

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What would have made your top 40?

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