The Navy has a long and colorful history, one that matches the naval slang terms sailors use with aplomb. The slang is genuinely funny, once you get someone to explain to what all those acronyms mean. It is often developed to say something colorful without getting into trouble with the brass. The slang communicates a very wry sense of humor, with an arched eyebrow towards officers, protocol, and anyone with a supercilious attitude.
The “90 day wonder” - this is the mocking description designated for officers who just graduated from the Officer Candidate School. Sailors also typically expand upon the description with sallies such as “90 day blunder” or “90 day miracle.”
Naval petty officers occasionally need a break from all the work of telling the regular enlisted men what to do. They take time out for a beer at the “Acey Deucey Club,” a retreat for 1st and 2nd Class Petty Officers.
The rest of the sailors might be stuck watching television. For those overseas or on a ship, the television programs they’re watching are programmed and sent to them by AFRTS (pronounced A-farts.) It stands for Armed Forces Radio and Television System.
Of course, when the sailors get paid, they take their money and go out on what they call “Amateur Night.” That’s what happens when men who are anxious for some R&R get too much money all at once, and have a limited amount of time to spend it. (it’s also called being broke the following morning.)
How about the more traditional naval slang terms that everyone remembers from the movies? A popular usage of naval slang is the name of a popular musical - “Anchors Aweigh.” "Aweigh" means that the anchor is no longer attached to the sea bottom and the weight of the anchor is being held by the anchor chain. Notice it’s “aweigh,” and not “away.”
This refers to the raising the anchor on a ship. When it’s “aweigh,” it’s no longer holding the ship in place, but even if the ship isn’t moving, it’s considered to be underway to its destination.
A submariner or a diver in his hard hat Navy gear is referred to as a “bubblehead” because of the appearance of the helmet on his head.
A newbie on the ship is called a ”boot" which is a shortened form of bootcamp, the first training received by recruits.
During “man overboard” drills, sailors use a dummy to throw into the sea that they nickname Oscar because the "o" flag ("Oscar" in the phonetic alphabet) is the flag hoisted when a sailor is overboard.
Create and save customized word lists. Sign up today and start improving your vocabulary!