Colorful military terms civilians may not be familiar with

While every profession and every region in the country has its own lexicon, none is so unique and colorful as that used in the military.

Terms like AWOL and SNAFU are now commonplace. Although they began as military jargon, they eventually made their way into the civilian population.

Because of the special relationship troops have serving together and depending upon one another with their lives in fast-paced, tense situations, they continue to develop short-hand expressions to communicate.

Business Insider put together a list of 25 words, phrases and acronyms used in the military that most people in the civilian population aren’t aware of.

Source for all images: Business Insider

1. “Fifteen minutes prior to 15 minutes prior” refers to the idea that military personnel are always advised to show up 15 minutes prior to the happening of an event, such as a formation.

The 15 minutes to 15 minutes arises as the order filters down through the ranks. The captain wants everyone to meet at 0600, so the master sergeant wants folks to arrive at 0545 — and when the order finally hits the corporal-level people are told to show up at midnight.



2. “A good piece of gear” in this case refers to a fellow service member. While someone in the South may describe an individual as “good people,” someone in the military will describe him as “a good piece of gear.”


3. “Blue falcon” could be described as the exact opposite of “a good piece of gear,” and references someone who has no problem throwing his fellow servicemen under the bus for his own gain.


4. “A Drug deal” described acquiring personnel or material through unofficial channels.


5. “Embrace the suck” refers to accept the bad with the good. Apart from the adventure and the camaraderie, pretty much everything in the military can pretty much suck — otherwise everyone would be clambering to enlist.

For every five seconds of hanging out of a helicopter, there are countless eternities spent enduring safety briefs and doing mundane tasks (picking up cigarette butts, buffing floors, toilets, etc.). And then there is the unpleasantness of being pinned beneath an inescapable and ever-present rank structure.

Troops are encouraged to embrace this sad reality.



6. “Field strip” is a term anyone who is familiar with weapons knows — whether military or civilian. It’s the process of breaking down a weapon to the extent authorized in order to clean and lube its individual parts.

But the military takes it a step further, and uses the term to describe any piece of equipment or machinery.

If a Humvee becomes stuck or broken outside of base, troops will field strip it of anything classified or of value before leaving it behind.

If you park your car in a bad part of town, it may be on cinder blocks by the next morning, completely field-stripped.



7. “Mandatory Fun” or “Mandofun” describes those non-official events everyone is expected to attend, but don’t necessarily want to.


8. “Birth-control glasses” is a term used to describe the eyewear that’s issued to troops. They’re not a fashion statement, but they get the job done.


9. “No impact, no idea” is a term a spotter uses to describe a shot fired on the range that was so far off-target he has no conception of wear it landed.

Used loosely to mean that the speaker doesn’t understand an idea, or that someone is totally clueless.

Similar to “high and off to the right,” which is the military equivalent of “out of left field” — a personality type gone crazy, or an idea that no one saw coming.


You can find 16 additional terms unique to the military you may not be familiar with, including “Full battle-rattle,” “Good initiative, bad judgment” and “Grunt by association” at Business Insider.


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