WW2 Military Terms and Slang

Askew's WW2 Soldier Slang

Introduction
This list deals primarily with Anglo-American military terms and slang during the war years, 1939-1945. Foreign words that were well-known or adopted by the English-speaking military may also be included, especially certain German words. It's not an academic work by any means. No sources or references are listed. I mean this material to be useful for gamers and writers who'd like to spice up their work with some of the language of the time and that's all.

Much WW2 slang originated either in the colonial wars of 19th Century or during the Great War so you don't see a familiar word or phrase here, try my Great War or Colonial lists.

Right now the list is heavily American. If anyone knows any appropriate British, Australian, etc. slang of the period, I'd be happy to add them. The same goes for any other American terms.

Send information and questions to faskew at yahoo dot com.

NOTE: I've written the address this way to thwart the evil spam bots that harvest addresses from Web sites. Redo the address to the typical name@ etc. before using.

Civilian Slang
Military Terms
Acronyms
US WW2 Phonetic Alphabet
WW2 Main Page

40 and 8 US - French railway cars that carried either 40 men or 8 horses. 
90-Day Wonder US - New officer who 90 days in OCS (Officer Candidate School) and was therefore inexperienced and green.  
ack-ack Allied - AA - Anti-aircraft - from WW1 British phonetic alphabet in which Ack stood for A.
ack-ack gun Allied - Anti-aircraft gun, often a twin 40mm.
Amis German - Americans
Aussie Australian - An Australian soldier.
beat-up British - An air strike, as in "request a beat-up".
blue-88 US - Sleeping pill
brew up British - Originally,  to make a fire to make tea, later, to catch fire. - "Gavin's tank brewed up on the first hit."
buck US - The lowest in a hierarchy. Example: buck private and buck sergeant.
burp gun US - The US M3 machine pistol
chopper US - The Thompson .45 caliber sub-machine gun,
cootie Allied - Louse  (possibly from Malay kutu [1917])
dogface US - American Soldier, infantryman. [1941]
doggies US - American Soldiers
dog tags US - Two metal identification tags worn around the neck, one to be collected and one to be left with the body after death.
draft, the US - National conscription. It began in 1940.
dragon's teeth German - rows of concrete anti-tank obstacles in the Siegfried Line
fly boy US - pilot
goldbrick US - To avoid duties or work [1902], someone who goldbricks.
gung ho US - Chinese for "Work Together". The motto of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. It's founder, Major Evans F. Carlson, spent several months as an observer with Mao Tse Tung's army in China and he was impressed with the Communist army's ability to covert peasants into good soldiers and to motivate them to self-sacrifice, so he borrowed some of their training methods.
Heinie British - A German [from the name Heinrich?]
idiot sticks US - The crossed rifle insignia of the infantry
Jerry British - A German.
Kraut US - A derogatory name for Germans (from German sauerkraut, sour cabbage)
Lili Marlene

A poem about a girl waiting for her soldier boyfriend written in 1915 by Hans Leip, a German soldier. It was set to music by Norbert Schultze recorded by Lale Andersen in 1938 as The Girl under the Lantern. Radio Belgrade in Yugoslavia broadcast it daily to the Afrika Korps in 1941 when they heard that Rommel liked it and became very popular in the British Eighth Army as well.  Marlene Dietrich did an Allied version in 1941.

looie US - Lieutenant (US)
lorry British - truck

Mae West

US - A inflatable life jacket that fit around the neck and down the chest. Named for the singer/comedienne who was known for her small waist and large bust. 
Maggie's drawers US - When trainees were at the firing range and didn't get any hits on their targets, the spotter beneath the targets waved a red flag on a pole. This became "Maggie's drawers" and meant a miss as in "He fired a full clip but all he got was Maggie's drawers."
million dollar wound US - A wound that took a soldier out of combat, and even perhaps back to the US for treatment, but did not permanently cripple or maim him.
noncoms US - non-commissioned officers
over the hill US - desertion - "Joe went over the hill last night."
phony war US - The time between the start of the war and the invasion of France.
Piccadilly Commando Allied - Prostitute who worked Piccadilly Circus in London.  
pineapple  US - fragmentation grenade, from the rough surface design
pongo British - Originally a monkey in mid-19th century, but later used for an army soldier.
red devils British - Name for Italian hand grenades, which were painted red. They were meant to explode on contact, but often didn't and only exploded when picked up by curious Tommies.
repple depple US - Replacement depot from which new men were assigned and wounded men returned to combat units.
Rommel's asparagus Allied - Stakes and poles placed in open fields to prevent gliders and such from landing in them.
Rot Scheint die Sonne German - Popular paratroop song, "Red Shines the Sun".
serenade US - name for TOT (Time on Target) artillery  barrage.
Tedeschi Italian - Germans
tell it to the chaplain US - I don't care about your problem. Go tell someone who's paid to care.
Tommy British -  Army soldier. (From Tommy Atkins, the universal British soldier.)
tommy gun US - a Thompson .45 caliber sub-machine gun
V for Victory Allied - Part morale booster, part propaganda, the V became a symbol of the Allied war effort. Churchill was often photographed making the V sigh with his fingers. Morse code for V being dot-dot-dot-dash, the opening notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony (dum-dum-dum-duuuum) was used as a sound version of the V symbol.
walkie-talkie US - small portable radio with limited range

 

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