GLOSSARY OF ARMY SLANG
- All around traverse
- A machine gun placed on a swivel to turn
in any direction.
- Ammunition. Usually for rifles, though occasionally used
to indicate that for artillery.
Argue the toss - Argue the point.
- Back of the line
- Anywhere to the rear and out of the danger
- Barbed wire
- Ordinary barbed wire used for entanglements. A
thicker and heavier military wire is sometimes used.
- Shells dropped simultaneously and in a row so as to
form a curtain of fire. Literal translation "a barrier."
Bashed - Smashed.
Big boys - Big guns or the shells they send over.
Big push - The battles of the Somme.
- The quarters of the soldier when back of the line.
Any place from a pigpen to a palace.
- Bleeder or Blighter
- Cockney slang for fellow. Roughly
corresponding to American "guy."
- England. East Indian derivation. The paradise looked
forward to by all good soldiers,--and all bad ones too.
Blighty one - A wound that will take the soldier to Blighty.
- The universal Cockney adjective. It is vaguely
supposed to be highly obscene, though just why nobody seems to
- A meaningless and greatly used adjective. Applied to
anything and everything.
Bomb - A hand grenade.
- Bully beef
- Corned beef, high grade and good of the kind, if
you like the kind. It sets hard on the chest.
Carry on - To go ahead with the matter in hand.
Char - Tea. East Indian derivation.
Chat - Officers' term for cootie; supposed to be more delicate.
- Variously used. To die. To be killed. To kill. To draw
some disagreeable job, as: I clicked a burial fatigue.
Communication trench - A trench leading up to the front trench.
- To turn around and prepare for occupation a
- The common,--the too common,--body louse. Everybody
- A round pit made by an underground explosion or by a
Cushy - Easy. Soft.
- An oblong iron pot or box fitting into a field kitchen.
Used for cooking anything and everything. Nobody seems to know why
it is so called.
Doggo - Still. Quiet. East Indian derivation.
Doing in - Killing.
Doss - Sleep.
Duck walk - A slatted wooden walk in soft ground.
Dud - An unexploded shell. A dangerous thing to fool with.
- out - A hole more or less deep in the side of a trench
where soldiers are supposed to rest.
Dump - A place where supplies are left for distribution.
- Entrenching tool
- A sort of small shovel for quick digging.
Carried as part of equipment.
Estaminet - A French saloon or cafe.
Fag - A cigarette.
Fatigue - Any kind of work except manning the trenches.
Fed up - Tommy's way of saying "too much is enough."
- Firing step
- A narrow ledge running along the parapet on which
a soldier stands to look over the top.
- A star light sent up from a pistol to light up out in
Fritz - An affectionate term for our friend the enemy.
Funk hole - A dug-out.
- Any poisonous gas sent across when the wind is right.
Used by both sides. Invented by the Germans.
- A piece of equipment similar to that used by
motorists, supposed to keep off tear gas. The rims are backed with
strips of sponge which Tommy tears off and throws the goggle frame
Go west - To die.
Grouse - Complain. Growl. Kick.
Hun - A German.
- Identification disc
- A fiber tablet bearing the soldier's
name, regiment, and rank. Worn around the neck on a string.
- Iron rations
- About two pounds of nonperishable rations to be
used in an emergency.
- Knuckle knife
- A short dagger with a studded hilt. Invented by
Lance Corporal - The lowest grade of non-commissioned officer.
- Lewis gun
- A very light machine gun invented by one Lewis, an
officer in the American army.
- Light railway
- A very narrow-gauge railway on which are pushed
little hand cars.
- Listening post
- One or more men go out in front, at night, of
course, and listen for movements by the enemy.
- A scientifically compounded and well-balanced
ration, so the authorities say. It looks, smells, and tastes like
- Medical Officer. A foxy cove who can't be fooled with
Mess tin - A combination teapot, fry pan, and plate.
Military cross - An officer's decoration for bravery.
- Military medal
- A decoration for bravery given to enlisted
Mills - The most commonly used hand grenade.
Minnies - German trench mortar projectiles.
Napper - The head.
Night 'ops - A much hated practice manoeuvre done at night.
No Man's Land - The area between the trenches.
On your own - At liberty. Your time is your own.
Out or over there - Somewhere in France.
Parados - The back wall of a trench.
Parapet - The front wall of a trench.
- One or more men who go out in front and prowl in the
dark, seeking information of the enemy.
- A boxlike arrangement with two mirrors for looking
over the top without exposing the napper.
Persuader - A short club with a nail-studded head.
- Pip squeak
- A German shell which makes that kind of noise when
it comes over.
Push up the daisies - To be killed and buried.
- Ration party
- A party of men which goes to the rear and brings
up rations for the front line.
- Relief from trench service. Mostly one works constantly
Ruddy - Same as bloody, but not quite so bad.
- A bag which is filled with mud and used for building
- Sentry go
- Time on guard in the front trench, or at rest at
Shell hole - A pit made by the explosion of a shell.
- Any kind of junk picked up for keepsakes. Also used
as a begging word by the French children.
- Stand to
- Order for all men to stand ready in the trench in
event of a surprise attack, usually at sundown and sunrise.
Stand down - Countermanding "stand to."
- A bomb weighing about eleven pounds usually thrown
from a mortar, but sometimes used by hand.
- One of the few words Tommy has borrowed from Fritz.
Suicide club - The battalion bombers.
Tin hat - Steel helmet.
Wave - A line of men going over the top.
Whacked - Exhausted. Played out.
Whiz-bang - A German shell that makes that sort of noise.
Wind up or windy - Nervous. Jumpy. Temporary involuntary fear.
- Wooden cross
- The small wooden cross placed over a soldier's