The armed services have long been a hotbed of extremely creative (and sometimes rather vulgar) language coining, all of which translates into military slang sayings that definitely stick in the mind. There are tons of military euphemisms that are so original that they’ve gained usage in the civilian world.
Since this is a PG-rated article, we may have to use some euphemisms for some of the very specific epithets the military casually uses in its slang. A very popular one that tends to precisely express the sentiments of soldiers in a very screwy up situation is FUBAR.
So what does FUBAR mean? It’s an acronym for “Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition” (there may be other words that can used in place of “fouled”, but we’ll leave that to your imagination.)
The word FUBAR goes back to World War II. In a cartoon (shown to enlisted men during movie nights), one of the cartoon characters was named Fubar. He was the brother of Private Snafu (another military euphemism meaning “Situation Normal, All Fouled Up) and Private Tarfu (TARFU is an acronym for “Thing Are Really Fouled Up.)
As you can see, military slang has a long and honored history!
Members of the armed services have a tendency to use acronyms as words. it can become quite comical, as in:
“I need an IFAK because of the POC of the IED that’s in the LZ.”
Translated, this acronym salad means: “I need an individual first aid kit because of the point of contact of an improvised explosive device that’s in the landing zone.”
Military acronyms are a very shorthanded way of saying a lot in a little bit of space. Time is of the essence on the battlefield, so memorizing acronyms is a common way soldiers express themselves ASAP (as soon as possible.)
A soldier who doesn't want to do a job because he has his orders and is leaving soon might yell, “FIGMO!” That means “Fudge It, Got My Orders!” (you can replace fudge with another word that starts with F).
If you’re a military person who is in the theatre of war, but you haven’t seen any action, your fellow soldiers might call you a “fobbit,” as you never leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base). The word is based on the Hobbit characters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Hobbits are little furry guys who didn’t like to leave the safety of their home.
Are you all decked out in your dress uniform, with a plethora of ribbons and medals on your chest? Soldiers call that a “fruit salad,” because of the colorful variety of decorations against the plainness of the dress uniform. The gold decorations across the bill of a Navy officer's hat are referred to as "scrambled eggs."
The Marines call a recruit who washes out of boot camp “FTA,” as in “failure to adapt. The US Army uses the same acronym, but with a different translation. To Army soldiers, FTA is a succinct expression of one’s displeasure with the service: “Fudge the Army!”
Although they really aren’t that fond of fudge!
The military, when they aren’t fighting, are all about military marching. If you can’t keep up with your fellow soldiers, and constantly walk out of step, you are considered to be engaging in a “gaggle march” (the word march pronounced “harch,” as in “hup two three four!”)
To sailors, junk food you can get out of a vending machine or from a convenience store is called “gedunk.” It’s not a coincidence that they refer to the ribbon given to new recruits in bootcamp as “gedunk.” It’s meant to express their disdain at an honor that required no effort except for showing up.
Are you a GI chowing down in the mess hall? That means you’re “Government Issue.” The GI acronym dates from World War II, and was a coined with the idea that soldiers were somewhat interchangeable.
For a list of more interesting armed forces abbreviations and shorthand, read the article Military Acronyms.