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| Michael P. Ehline

Glossary of USMC Slang and Terms in Alphabetical Order

From basic training onward, you can never compare the Air Force, Air Force Academy, or any other more civilian life type military force to the United States Marine Corps. Service members from this combat-oriented branch, both officers and enlisted, offer the toughest and longest basic training a US service member can obtain. Here, even the enlisted ranks are expected to fill leadership roles and have always been at the tip of the spear of the United States military, and still do the most push-ups.

Here are some great words used to describe different things even a newly promoted corporal would have down by their permanent duty station. Not all are official, of course. Some may vary based on your particular unit. But this is how we tend to speak with each other, along with the military slang of the day. Most of all, many of these are never used in other military branches, making an active duty or reserve Marine a dead giveaway on or off another military base.


  • A-Driver: Amphibious Vehicle Driver
  • Admin: Administrative duties or personnel who work in an office environment with a lot of electronic equipment like laptops and communications equipment, also called POGs
  • Afterburners: Full throttle, maximum speed
  • Airwinger: A loving term used to describe what many 0311s consider to be the less disciplined Marines who deal with helicopters or other aircraft maintenance or repair on land or on Navy vessels while deployed at sea or overseas locations. Many grunts consider these light duties and think they look sloppy wearing a flight suit when many do not fly
  • Amped Up: Excited or enthusiastic
  • AO: Area of Operations
  • Army Gloves: Deragotory term for having your hands in your pockets while on base and in uniform. Sign of laziness.
  • Aye Aye: Affirmative response, meaning “Yes” typically in response to senior officers and NCOs, or to all Marines and sailors during recruit training.
  • Bag of Hammers: A somewhat derogatory term to describe someone who is not very intelligent, and likely doing an extended tour
  • Barracks Lawyer or Sea Lawyer: A Marine who offers legal advice without proper qualifications
  • Barracks Rat: A Marine without the finances to go out and party in a town like Oceanside while on liberty.
  • Battle Rattle: Combat gear or equipment
  • Big Chicken Dinner: A Bad Conduct Discharge is the less severe of the two types of punitive discharge that may be delved out by court-martial (the more severe being a dishonorable discharge ).
  • Big Green Weenie: A fictitious penis said to be used against a Marine whenever a Marine get screwed over or even sent to the detention barracks
  • Blue Falcon: Betrayal of a fellow Marine, an abbreviation for “Buddy F***er.”
  • Brass: High-ranking officers or senior leadership
  • Bulk Fuel: Marines are responsible for providing fuel to units in the field
  • Butts: Area at rifle range where there are targets and a team of Marines who mark shots for Marines qualifying under drill instructors or in the FMF the Marines Corps term for Fleet Marine Force.
  • Cammies: Camouflage uniforms
  • Captain’s Mast: Non-Judicial Punishment imposed under Article 15 of the UCMJ.
  • CAX: Combined Arms Exercise
  • Charlie Foxtrot: Chaos or a mess, an abbreviation for “Cluster F***” or associated military terms like FUBAR.
  • Chief: A Navy Chief Petty officer
  • Chem Light Batteries: A snipe hunt as part of a hazing ritual to have a new Marine search for obviously non-existent batteries for chemical light sticks
  • Chow Hall: Dining facility or mess hall
  • Comms: Communications equipment or systems
  • Cover: Hat or headgear
  • Crayon Eater: This is a newer term we never used circa 1989. It apparently originates from the stereotype that Marines are a little dumb, tough, and resilient. Hence they are willing to eat just about anything, including non-food items like crayons. I saw one where kids were serving meals of crayons to a table of Marines, and one young Marine ate them.
  • Dear John: A letter or communication from a girl or wife breaking off the relationship with a Marine. Typically we say she is hooking up with “Jodie,” which is also an army term for a man cheating with a service member’s wife or girlfriend.
  • Devil Dog: Nickname for a Marine, derived from the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I
  • Diddy Bop: A walk with exaggerated swagger or confidence
  • Dink: Derogatory term for someone from Southeast Asia, used during the Vietnam War
  • Doc: A Hospital Corpsman or Navy medical specialist attached to Marine units, usually in the FMF. It is also used to describe a legit Navy military doctor wearing commissioned rank insignia.
  • Dog Tags: Identification tags worn by Marines, but also a Navy term
  • Drill Instructor: Marine responsible for training recruits during boot camp
  • Duffle Bag: Large bag used for carrying personal belongings


  • EAS: End of Active Service, referring to Marine’s separation or discharge from the Corps
  • Fart Sack: Sleeping bag or bed
  • Field Day: Cleaning and organizing living quarters or workspaces
  • FNG: F***ing New Guy, a new Marine or someone inexperienced
  • Gear adrift: Equipment or personal belongings not properly stowed or secured
  • Gung Ho: Enthusiastic or motivated
  • Gunner: AWarrant Officer” rank in the Marine Corps, but all warrant officers are commonly referred to as “Gunner.” This term comes from the historical role of Warrant Officers as crew-served weapon and artillery gunnery experts. Gunners are typically found in the field artillery community and hold specialized knowledge in their field.
  • Gunny: A term used to describe a gunnery sergeant, as well as R Lee Ermey, world-famous star of the iconic motion picture Full Metal Jacket, and philanthropist in the M/C community
  • Gyrene: Slang term for a Marine, derived from “G.I.” and “Marine.”
  • Hooah: Term used by Marines to express enthusiasm or agreement, derived from the Army’s “Hooah.”
  • Humvee: High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as a Hummer


  • IED: Improvised Explosive Device
  • Jarhead: Slang term for a Marine, referencing the high-and-tight haircut
  • Kevlar: A type of helmet, or other body armor, including small arms protective inserts
  • Klick: Kilometer, a unit of distance
  • Latrine: Bathroom or restroom
  • Leatherneck: Traditional term for a Marine, derived from the leather collars worn on their uniforms in the 19th century
  • Liberty: Time off or leave for Marines
  • MARPATS: Marine Pattern Uniform or Cammies, or BDUs
  • Motard: A Marine so in love with the Corps. he becomes retarded, or a Motard, aka stupid person who eats crayons and stands at parade rest all the time, etc.
  • Motivated, Moto: Energetic or enthusiastic
  • Mr. or Ms.: Warrant Officers are often addressed as “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by their last name. This is a sign of respect for their rank and position within the Marine Corps.
  • MRE: Meal, Ready-to-Eat, individual field rations
  • Oorah: Battle cry or motivational term used by Marines, similar to the Army’s “Hooah,” or the US Navy’s “Hooyah”. USMC lore says it comes from the USMC Raiders of WWII to mimic the oogah dive horns of the old submarines they dove from. The United States Air Force and Coast Guard have their versions of battle cry as well.
  • Old Glory: The National Flag or “Jack,” which was traditionally flown on the prow of the ship and the pole and hung upon a “Jackstay.”
  • OIC: Officer in Charge
  • POG: Derogatory term referring to person Other than Grunt, referring to non-infantry Marines
  • PFT: Physical Fitness Test
  • Pisscutter: Hats or covers made famous and iconic by Marines receiving the Medal of honor during World War II while in Charlies or Alpha dress uniforms instead of the barracks cover, also a Marine Corps term
  • POGey Bait: Snacks or treats, often sent by family or friends
  • PT: Physical Training


  • Quadcon: Quad-Consolidated Container, a large shipping container used to transport equipment or supplies
  • Rack: Bed or sleeping area, also used to describe a ribbons or medals on a rack, or salad bowl, or chest candy.
  • Recon: Short for Reconnaissance, referring to Marines who specialize in gathering intelligence
  • Semper Fi: Short for Semper Fidelis, the Marine Corps motto meaning “Always Faithful”
  • Sergeant Major: The highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps
  • Shitbird: Derogatory term for a Marine who avoids work or shirks responsibilities
  • Skivvies: Underwear or undergarments
  • Smoke Session: Intense physical training or punishment
  • Snivel Gear: Cold weather clothing or gear
  • Squared Away: Well-organized or disciplined
  • Standby to Get Some: Be prepared for combat or action
  • TAD: Temporary Additional Duty, referring to temporary assignment outside of regular duties or unit
  • Terminal Lance: Slang term for a Lance Corporal, typically used humorously to describe the rank’s limited authority and responsibilities
  • The Green Weenie: Symbolic reference to the Marine Corps bureaucracy or unfavorable circumstances
  • The Suck: Difficult or challenging situations, particularly during combat or training
  • Tech: In some instances, Warrant Officers may be referred to as “Tech.” This term is derived from the technical expertise and specialized knowledge that Warrant Officers possess in their field.
  • Top: Slang term for the First Sergeant or Master Sergeant, or sometimes the highest-ranking enlisted Marines in a particular unit
  • TOW: Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile system used for anti-armor purposes
  • Tricare: Healthcare program for military personnel and their families


  • Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children: Humorous or self-deprecating term used by Marines to refer to themselves
  • USMC: United States Marine Corps
  • Wardog: A Marine who excels at combat or aggressive tactics
  • Watch your Six: Be aware of your surroundings or look out for potential threats
  • WIA: Wounded in Action
  • WO: Warrant Officers may be referred to simply as “WO” as an abbreviation of their rank. This term is more commonly used in written communication or informal conversations.
  • XO: Executive Officer, second-in-command to the commanding officer of a unit
  • Yardbird: Derogatory term for a Marine who avoids work or shirks responsibilities
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Slang term for very early in the morning, usually before sunrise

Please note that this glossary provides a general overview of USMC slang and terms but is by no means an exhaustive list. The Marine Corps and armed forces in general, has a rich history and culture, and its slang has evolved over time, maggots.

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