americanThe following list of terms, words and slang were in common useage throughtout the American Army in the Great War. They are taken from Arthur Guy Empey's book "First Call."


Adjutant. An officer, usually a captain, with office in headquarters, who is in charge of the details work of a regiment; the mouth piece of the Colonel.

A.G.O. Adjutant-General's Office.

Aide-de-Camp. An officer detailed to assist a General.

"All Night In." A member of the guard who does not haveto walk post at night - generally the orderly to the C.O. (Commanding Officer).

Allotment. The sum of money allotted by a soldier, from his month's pay, to the people at home.

"A month and a month". Sentenced to one month's confinement, and the forfeiture of one month's pay.

"Arrest in Quarters." A soldier awaiting trail for a misdemeanour which is not serious enough to confine him in the guardhouse. He is not allowed to leave quarters except for drill, fatigues, etc.

A.W.L. Absent with leave.

A.W.O.L. Absent without leave; the above is the more advisable way to visit your "sweetheart".


Bachelor's Mess. Name generally applied to the quarters of unmarried officers.

"Barndook." Nickname for rifle.

Battalion. A command in the army consisting of four companies of infantry. (1000 men).

Bell mare. In every pack train in the army there is a bell mare, - a gray mare with a bell attached to her halter. Mules are trained to follow the sound of the ringing bell.

"Biscuit shooter." Slang term for a female servant or officer's cook. Old-time western expression.

"Black draught." Jollop.

"Black Jack." A strong phhysic. Generally jollop. Coffee is also called "Black Jack."

Blanco. A whitening for belts.

"Bobtailed." Dishonourably discharged.

"Bootleg." Nickname for coffee.

"Bought another star." Term for being fined by a court martial. If a heavy fine, it is "bought another flag."

Brigade. A command of the army consistingof four regiments.

"Bucking for Orderly." Cleaning up so that you will be the cleanest man guard mounting.

"Bunkie." Term given to the soldier who sleeps next to you in barracks or camp.

"Busted." American army slang meaning that a non-commissioned officer has been reduced by order, or court-martial, the the grade of private.

Butts. The part of the rifle range from which the targets are operated.

"Buzzy cot." A field stove.


"Canned Willie," Corned Beef.

Canteen. Water Bottle - also army store.

Canteen checks. Paper or metal money which will be honoured for merchandise at the army canteen.

Cantonment. A large site upon which temporary buildings are erected.

Challenge. A verbal warning from a sentry. This takes the form of the question, "Halt, ! Who's there?"

"Challenging an orderly." At guard mounting the Adjutant picks out the cleanest man for orderly to the commanding officer.

"Charge of Quarters." A non-commissioned officer who is detailed to look after the affairs of the company barracks.

"Chasing prisoners." Guarding prisoners while at labour.

Check. 11p.m. inspection to see that all men not on pass or duty are in their bunks or cots.

Check pass. A pass given to men which allows him to be absent after 11p.m., but does not exclude him from reveille.

Chino Khaki. Khaki made in China.

C.O. Commanding Officer.

"Coffee cooler." SLang used in the army for a soldier who is always looking for a soft jab.

Colors. The national, State or regimental flag carried by foot troops.

"Come and get it." Sammy never gets in the guardhouse for disobeying this call. (used by the cook to announce that the meal is ready to be served).

Commissioned officer. An officer in the service of the Unitied States whose commission is signed by the President, or Govenor of a State; from all grades from Second Lieutenant up.

"Cow." Slang for milk.

"Crazy for the heat." A common saying in the tropics and amongs troops who have served there. same as "talking through your hat".

Cuff leggins. Name given to the short canvas leggins.


"Detached Service." A man detailed on some military duty away from the station of his unit.

"Dhobie itch." A very populer skin disease contracted in the Philippine Islands.

Diamond hitch. A certain way of tying a rope on the aparejo when packing a mule.

Dining-room orderly. A man detailde to look after the dining-room, set tables, cut bread, and wait on table.

Discharge without honor. A soldier is discharged without honor for inaptitude or disability not incurred in the line of duty. It does not entil the loss of citizenship.

"Dishonorably Discharged." A soldier who has received a dishonorable discharge from the Army. A dishonorable discharge entails the loss of your citizenahip. The paper is appropriately  yellow in color.

Division. A command of the army consisting of three brigades. (twelve regiments).

"Dog robber." Nickname for a soldier who does menial work for an officer.

Dog tent. Nickname for a shelter tent.

Doherty wagon. A four-wheeled covered wagon drawn by from four to six mules.

"Do it again." Slang for reenlisting.

"Doughboys." Nickname for the infantry.

D.S. Army abbreviation for "Detached Service."

"Dust-Disturbers." Nickname for infantry.


E.D. Abbreviation for Extra Duty.

"Elsie." Nickname given for a fine inflicted by a Summary Court-Martial. (a "$10 Elsie").

"Extra Duty." A soldier detailed on special work such as the duties of a clerk. Extra pay is allowed him by the Government.


Fatigue. Army term for work.

Field Officer. An officer of a regiment with or above the rank of a Major.

"First and last chance." The nearest saloon to an army reservation.

"First Call." The first trumpet call starting the new day.

First Duty Sergeant. The ranking line sergeant of a company.

"First hitch." First enlistment.

"For the good of the service." A caption generally used by a commanding officer who issues an order and cannot justify it by any specific General Order or regulation. It covers a multitude of sins.

"French leave." Absent with permission.

Full pack. Heavy marching order.

Funeral escort. Troops detailed on funeral duty in the army to show honor and respect to the deceased.

Furlough. Permission to be absent from military duties granted to enlisted men.


Garrison prisoner. A slodier who has received a sentence in the guardhouse, - from one to six months.

General Officer. A military term used in referring to an officer holding a General's rank.

General Orders. Standard orders issued by the War Department, governing the conduct of the men on guard.

"Ghost walks." Nickname fot getting paid - pay day.

"Give the wind a chance." An expression used to "shut up".

G.O. Abbreviation for General Orders.

"Gold brick." Term for a soldier who beats the sick report, or one who is on special or extra duty and stands no formations with his troop, battery, or company. "Gold bricks" are not popular in the army.

"Gold lace candidate." A soldier who has passed the preliminary examination for a commission.

"Got his buzzard." Received his discharge.

"Government bouquet." Name given to laundry soap issued by the Government.

"Government straight." The rations issued to soldiers by the Governement.

"Grabbing leather." Cavalry term for a man who grabs his saddle to prevent himself from being thrown from an unruly horse.

"Gravel-Agitators." Nickname for the infantry.

"Grease." Slang for butter.

"Growling." The right of an old soldier but tabooed for recruits. It means grumbling.

"Guardhouse lawyer." A prisoner in the Guardhouse who imposes his advice on you, telling you how to beat your coming court-martial. He never beats his own.


"Hand-shaker." A soldier who waits on a "non-com." in order to curry favor with him. (Synonym according to the rest of the compan: worm.)

"Hardtack." Nickname for a very hard cracker.

"Hard-tail." Nickname for a mule.

"Hash marks." Slang for service or enlistment stripes worn on the sleeves of the dress uniform of a soldier.

Heliograph. Instrument used by the Signal Corps.

"High-ball." Army slang for a salute.

"Hike." A route march.

"Holy Joe." Army chaplain.

"Hooks." Cavalry nickname for spurs.


Identification disc. A round disc about the size of a half dollar. made from red fiber or aluminium, which is worn around the neck. On this disc is stenciled the man's name, number, company, regiment, and brigade.

"In the mill." General term for "in the guardhouse."

"It didn't take an Act of Congress to make me a gentleman." A very weak expression a disgruntled soldier uses as soon as he is out of hearing of an officer who has just reprimanded him.


"Jawbone." The army term for getting someone the credit.

"Juniper." "Meat" for the old soldier,-a raw recruit.


Kitchen Police. Men detailed by roster to help the cook, wash dishes, wait on table during meals, etc.

"K.O." Army slang for Commanding Officer, generally used by officers.

"K.P." Kitchen Police.


"Lance Jack." Slang for Lance Corporal.

Lead. The leading team on a caisson or limber in the field artillery.

"Lean-to." Ashelter made out of limbs of trees, covered with branches, straw, grass, and ponchos.

Leave of absence. Permission to be absent from military duties, granted to officers.

"Letting out religion." A term used for cursing, swearing, profanity.

"Lights out." It means Tattoo; this call is usually sounded at 9 p.m. and means that lights must be extinguished in squad rooms or sleeping quarters.

Line officer. A commissioned officer below the rank of Major.

"Loco." Spanish term for "crazy."

"Long Roll, the." A long roll on the kettledrum used before the fife and drum corps was abolished. It was a call to arms.


Malingerer. A soldier who tries to beat the sick report to escape his duties as a soldier.

Mess kit. Mess tin, cover, knife, fork, spoon, and tin cup.

Military Convict. A soldier who has been dishonorably discharged and who is serving his sentence in confinement.

Military Police. Soldiers detailed to enforce regulations, preserve order etc..

"Milk Squardron or Battalion." The third squadron in cavalry, third battalion in infantry. Taken from the letters of the troops or companies comprising it, i.e., I. K. L. M.

"Mill." Army nivkname for the Guardhouse.

"Monkey Drill." Rough riding in the cavalry.

Mounted pass. A three to four hour pass granted to a man in the cavalry, generally on a Sunday, to take his horse for exercise.

"Mud-crunchers." The infantry.

"Mule skinner." Wagoner.

Muster. In the army a regular monthly formation of an organization at which the men are accounted for and all equipment checked and inspected.


"Non-Com." Army term for Non-Commissioned officer.


Officer of the Day. An officer in the army in direct command of the guard. Tour of duty is twenty-four hours.

"Officers' papers." Cigarette papers which you buy, -not the ones given away with tobacco.

Officers' Row. The line of officers' quarters in an army post.

"Old Army Game." Gambling game, "Under, Over and Even."

"Old Man." Nickname for the Captain of a company, also used when referring to the Colonel.

"On the mat or carpet." Haled before the CAptain to answer for some dereliction of duty.

Orderly pass. A twenty-four hour pass given to the Orderly by the commanding officer, as soon as his tour of guard is finished.

Orderly Room. The Captain's office.

"Outfit." Army term for a regiment.

"Outlaw." A cavalry term for a horse which is wicked and unmanageable.


Paroled prisoner. A garrison prisoner or military convict who only has a month or two "to do" and who has been given his parole on account of good conduct.

Piece. Common name for rifle.

Police (as verb). A term used in the army, meaning to clean up, put in order.

"Politician." Nickname for a soldier who has a soft details or job which excuses him from all calls.

Pontoon bridge. Temporary bridge across a river or stream constructed by the Engineers Corps.

Post exchange. A military store under direct control of the Government.

Prison Guard. Men detailed for a period of ten days to guard prisoners in the daytime while out working.

"Pronto." Spanish for "Hurry".

Provost Sergeant. A sergeant detailed on extra or special duty to look after prisoners and general enforcing of special and standing regulations.

Pull-through. A stout piece of cord on one end of which is attached a weight; on the other is a loop through which you insert an oily rag. This is then drawn through the barrel of the gun, which effectively cleans it.

"Pulling his belt." Confining a sentry for some breach of thr Guard Manual.

"Pump handle." Slang term for saluting.

"Punk." Slang for bread.

"Pup tent." Nickname for a shelter tent.

"Push and pull." Slang for "sighting and aiming" drill.


Q.M. General army abbreviations for Quartermaster.


"Racker." Hard trotting horse.

"Rat tail." Army slang for mule.

"Rear." Toilet, latrine.

Regiment. A command of the army consisting of three battalions of infantry or three squadrons of cavalry.

"Re-up." Slang for reenlisting.

Review. A formation of the army held in honor of some high individual.

"Rise and shine." Means turn out of your bunks, get up.

R.O. Abbreviation for Regimental Order.

"Roman nose." A horse with a Roman nose, looks like a Shylock.

"Rookie." A recruit.

Route march. A practice march for troops designed to keep them in condition.


"Sand rat." Nickname for a man detailed to work in the butts during target prectice on the range.

S.C.M. Abbreviation for Summary Court-Martial.

Scout. A specially trained man detailed to gain information from the enemy.

S.D. Abbreviation for Special Duty.

"Shad belly." A horse with a belly sharply tapers towards the rear.

"Shave-tail." American army slang for an officer who has just been graduated from West Point.

"Shoestring Corporal." A lance corporal.

Sick in Quarters. What the doctor marks on the sick report when a man is too sick to perform his duties.

"Single-footer." A horse which strikes the ground with its feet one after the other.

Sinks. Toilets, latrines, rears.

"Six for five." Means borrowing five dollars and paying for six for it on pay day.

"Six-sixty." Six months in the guardhouse and a $60 fine.

"Sixty-Second, the." The Sixty-Second Article of War., a cover all section.

"Skee." A common nickname for Whiskey or "booze".

"Sky pilot." Army chaplain.

Slacker. A parasite on the star spangled banner.

Slicker. Rubber or oilskin coat.

"Slum." Nickname for army stew.

"Slum, full pack." Stew with a diugh crust baked over it, like a beefsteak pie.

"Smoke wagons." Nicknames for the guns of the field artillery.

S.O. Abbreviation for Special Order.

"Sow belly." Army slang for bacon.

"Special Duty." A soldier detailed by order, on some special work, such as company clerk, clerk in headquarters, etc. He is generally excused from all calls.

Special orders. Orders  issued by the commanding officer of a company or post, instructing sentries as to their conduct and maintainance of order on certain specified posts of guard.

Squardron. A command of the army consisting of four troops of cavalry.

Stable Police. A man detailed to help clean the stables, and feed and water the stock etc.

Staff Officer. An officer who is doing duty on a General's staff, or in one of the Departments at Washington. A post very much coveted by officers.

Standards. The national, State, or regimental flags carried by mounted organizations of the army.

"Straight Duty." A soldier who stands all calls, formations, and drill of his unit.

Striker. Official designation for a soldier who is an officer's servant. But the other soldiers call him "dog robber" (the reason is obvious).

Stripped Saddle. Term in the cavalry which means that nothing will be carried on the saddle for drill, except possibly the sword and rifle scabbard.

Summary Court. An officer specially designed or detailed by the commanding officer of an organization to try and to punish men for minor breaches of discipline.

"Sunfisher." A horse which has a peculiar thurning movement when bucking.

"Sway-back." A horse with a trench where his back ought to be, because his backbone sags in the middle.


"Tailor made." Cigarettes bought already made.

"Tell it to the marines." An old army phrase used when a man is trying to get away with a fishy statement.

"Three-and-a-kick." Three months in the guardhouse and a discharge from the army without honor.

"Three-thirty." Term of sentence of S.C.M..,-means three months in guardhouse and thirty dollars' fine.

"Thrown off Guard." A soldier who at guard mounting has been rejected by the Adjutant because of dirty equipment.

"Top Cutter." Slang for First Sergeant.

"Top Sergeant." Slang for First Sergeant.

"Top Soldier." Slang for First Sergeant.

Troop or Company clerk. A soldier, generally a "non-com.," who helps First Sergeant with the clerical work.

"Two and a butt." An enlistment period of three years.

"Two-twenty." Sentenced by S.C.M. to two months confinement and a twenty dollar fine.

"Typewriter." The army name for a lawnmower.


Venereal List. A list of names of men suffering from venereal disease. Men not allowed to visit town until cleared by the Doctor.


Wagon Master. A civilian in the pay of the Government who is in charge of the regimental waon train.

"Wagon Soldiers." Nickname for field artillery.

"Walking Post." A sentry on guard duty.

War bridle. A bridle of rope used on horses which have a habit of bolting.

"W.D." Abbreviation for War Department.

Wheel team. Team of horses hitched nearest to the limber.

"White lightening." Corn Whiskey.

Wig-wag. To signal with flags.

"Windjammer." Army slang for trumpter or bugler.

"Working his ticket." A man who feigns stupidity or insanity in order to be discharged from the service.


"Yellow ticket." Dishonorable discharge. The paper is yellow.

"You'll find it on the pay roll." An expression used to a soldier when he tells of losing a part of his equipment. It means that the cost of the article will be entered against him on the next monthly pay roll and will be deducted from his pay.

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