Cover image shows Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft from World War II during Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Day at RAF Coningsby. Credit: SAC Sally Raimondo, Crown Copyright
Fun

A Guide To Understanding RAF Slang And Terminology

Think you know your Crab-chat from your Squaddie-slang? Not all military jargon is Tri-service. Warning: Contains adult language

Cover image shows Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft from World War II during Lincolnshire Lancaster Association Day at RAF Coningsby. Credit: SAC Sally Raimondo, Crown Copyright

Warning: This content contains adult themes and strong language which some might find offensive.

It's no secret that the British Military have their own language but did you know that each service also has its own variation of slang?

Check out this guide to understanding the Royal Air Forces' jargon and acronyms and don't forget to let us know if you think we've missed any.

What would you add to the next list?
Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 aircraft. Credit: Cpl Neil Bryden RAF, Crown Copyright
Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 aircraft. Credit: Cpl Neil Bryden RAF, Crown Copyright

Apron - Aircraft movement or a parking area.

Bag - A parachute or anti-exposure suit.

Bang On - A direct hit or to be correct.

Bar Codes - A braided rank slide worn by RAF officers.

Bean Stealers - Married personnel who live in singles accommodation during the working week and eats the free food available for living in soldiers. More relevant for pre ‘Pay As You Dine’ sites.

Beer Lever -The joystick of an aircraft.

Beer Tokens - Money or pay.

Bimble - A walk or a stroll.

Box Clever - To use one’s brains to get the best out of a situation or to wangle yourself out of having to do something.

Brown Jobs - The Army, also known as ‘Pongos’ and ‘Squaddies’.

A Sig Sauer pistol aka a ‘Hip Flask’. Credit: Senior Aircraftsman Daniel Herri, Crown Copyright
A Sig Sauer pistol aka a ‘Hip Flask’. Credit: Senior Aircraftsman Daniel Herri, Crown Copyright

Brolly - An opened parachute.

Bull Night - Cleaning night ahead of a block inspection.

Cab - Helicopter.

Canteen Cowboy - Ladies’ man.

Chip Bag - A field service cap.

Civvies - Civilian clothes eg the dress code tonight is civvies.

Chuff Chart - Countdown calendar to when someone is returning home from a ‘det’.

Colonel (Gadafi) - The NAAFI.

Daisy Cutter - A faultless landing.

An RAF Chinook helicopter is also known as a ‘cab’. Credit: PO (PHOT) Hamish Burke, Crown Copyright
An RAF Chinook helicopter is also known as a ‘cab’. Credit: PO (PHOT) Hamish Burke, Crown Copyright

Det or Detachment - An operational tour.

Diggers - Cutlery.

Dhobi - Laundry.

Dhobi Dust - Washing powder.

Dhobi Wallah - Person employed to wash laundry.

Drink - A body of water, ocean, sea, river or water.

Duff Gen - Wrong or inaccurate information. Pukka Gen - Authentic information.

Five Finger Spread - Using an opened hand to stop vomit.

Fizzer -To be charged with a misdemeanour or be detained is to be put in the Fizzer.

Fish Heads - The Royal Navy.

RAF crew watch the ‘brolly’ open as a load is dropped from a C130J Hercules. Credit: Cpl Lee Matthews RAF, Crown Copyright
RAF crew watch the ‘brolly’ open as a load is dropped from a C130J Hercules. Credit: Cpl Lee Matthews RAF, Crown Copyright

Flap - Chaos or panic. Eg ‘He’s in a right flap’.

Trolley Dolly - Someone carrying out cabin crew duties.

FOD - Foreign Object Damage/Debris.

Full Bore - Flat out or at full speed.

FUNG - F**king Useless New Guy.

Gonk - Sleep.

Goolies - Testicles.

Gopping - Awful, horrible.

Grounded - Refers to a recently married man who can no longer continue his bachelor ways or an aircraft that is not allowed to fly.

Hand to Gland Combat - A bit of 'personal time' for a man and his hand.

Hangar Bash - A party held in an aircraft hangar.

Could it be possible that this Royal Air Force C130J Hercules is off on a ‘jolly’? Credit: Cpl Lee Matthews RAF, Crown Copyright
Could it be possible that this Royal Air Force C130J Hercules is off on a ‘jolly’? Credit: Cpl Lee Matthews RAF, Crown Copyright

Hip Flask - A revolver or pistol.

Jelly Tots - Junior technicians.

Jolly - A free trip at public expense with limited or no work required, usually to somewhere hot.

Long Haired General - A wife.

Lumpy Jumpers - Airwoman.

Maggot - Issued sleeping bag.

Minesweeping - Clearing up/drinking other people’s leftover drinks.

Muppets - RAF Movements Trade.

Noddy Suit - Personal Protective Suit.

Pear Shaped - Derives from the shape an aircraft makes when it crashes eg ‘It’s gone pear shaped’.

A Typhoon jet is towed from its hangar aka ‘shed’ at RAF Coningsby. Credit: Corporal Andrew Seaward, Crown Copyright
A Typhoon jet is towed from its hangar aka ‘shed’ at RAF Coningsby. Credit: Corporal Andrew Seaward, Crown Copyright

Pebble Monkey - RAF Regiment Officer.

Peeping Tortoise - To be desperate for a poo.

Play The Piano - Release bombs one at a time.

Prang - To crash into something, originally derives from bombing a target.

Rat/Mouse Trap - Submarine.

Rock Ape - RAF Regiment Gunner.

Scrub - To get rid of or cancel something.

Second Dickey - Co-pilot in training.

Shed - An aircraft hangar.

Shineys - Clerk or admin staff.

Shreddies - Underwear. The term is thought to have been originally coined for long issued undergarments that had a ‘Shreddies’ cereal pattern.

A submarine is also known as a mouse or rat trap in the RAF. Credit: Cdr Charles Ball, Crown Copyright
A submarine is also known as a mouse or rat trap in the RAF. Credit: Cdr Charles Ball, Crown Copyright

Shuftie - To have a look.

Slop Jockey - RAF Chef.

Scuffers - RAF police who have white trim on issued head-dress.

Spawny - Lucky.

Sprog - A new ‘green’ Army recruit.

Spout - Rifle or gun barrel. ‘Up the spout’ is a round in the breech.

Squipper - A Survival Equipment Fitter.

Swamp - To wet yourself or your bedding.

Target - A love interest or a ‘target’ for the evening.

Tear A Strip Off - A severe reprimand.

Throw One Up or Chuck One Up - To salute or pay ‘respects’ to an Officer.

Tits Up - It’s all gone horribly wrong. Can refer to an aircraft undergoing maintenance or in trouble. The term is understood to have come from the range of control switches in an aircraft's cockpit being known in the RAF as taps and tits.