Do You Know Your US Marine Corps Jargon?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Armed Forces Archives

About This Quiz

The United States military is notorious for its overuse of esoteric jargon and acronyms, and the Marine Corps is no exception. These men and women use so many unofficial terms that civilians often have no idea what they’re talking about. In this quiz, do you think you really understand Marine slang?

In the military, slang is often a sneaky way to be derisive without being directly insulting. It’s also frequently deployed as shorthand, a fast way to communicate ideas without having to explain concepts over and over again. Everyone in the Marines knows that an SRB is a Service Record book, a detailed account of a Marine’s actions and performance during an enlistment period. 

And SNM is “said named Marine,” a way to refer to the same Marine in an official document without having to spell out his or her name repeatedly. Do you think you can identify other common Marine acronyms?

Not all Marine slang is official. Many terms – some of which are too vulgar to repeat in this quiz – are phrases that these men and women use in casual conversation. “Shellbacks” are those Marines who have crossed the equator during their journeys. And of course, “over the hill” Marines are the graying Marines who have spent much of their lives in the service. Do you remember other slang terms that you’ve heard Marines use?

OK, “Mustangs,” let’s find out if you’re a real leatherneck or if you need to go back to the Army. Take this Marine slang quiz now!

What does it mean if a Marine is "dual-cool"?

"Dual-cool" Marines have badges for both diving and parachuting. They are ultra-capable soldiers.


What's a "terminal lance"?

A "terminal lance" is a lance corporal whose enlistment is nearly up … and he won't be promoted before then.


"K-Bay" is Marine base in which area?

Marine Corps Base Hawaii is sometimes called "K-Bay." For obvious reasons, K-Bay is a desirable post.


New Marines are often called _____.

Marines who are recent graduates of boot camp are often simply called "boots." They have a long way to go to earn the respected of veteran soldiers.


What is "fire watch"?

In the olden days, troops kept fire watch to literally watch for fires. In the Marines, fire watch is guard duty.


What's a "winger"?

Wingers are aviation Marines. They're the men and women who take to the skies for a plethora of missions.


In the Marines, what is term for weekly cleaning duties?

Every week, there is a "field day," and it's not really as fun as it sounds. It means you'll be doing some hardcore cleaning around the base.


Marines who graduate from the San Diego recruit training camp are sometimes called ____.

They are the Hollywood Marines -- the men and women who complete training at the base in San Diego.


What does it mean if a Marine is "skating"?

To "skate" is to be lazy and avoid responsibility. Some Marines take pride in their skating ability.


What does "rah" mean?

"Rah" is short for "oorah," an enthusiastic greeting, or an exclamation. It can also be used in question form … "rah?"


What does it mean if a Marine is a "two-digit midget"?

"Two-digit midgets" are often the envy of other Marines. It means that the soldier has 99 days (or less) remaining in her enlistment.


If a Marine commander screams, "zero," what does he want?

"Zero" is a quick and easy way for a commander to indicate that he needs the attention of his Marines.


Marines who learn martial arts are trained in ____.

It's a play on the Marines motto: "Semper Fi." "Semper Fu" (a play on kung fu), is martial arts for Marines.


What's a term used to describe a Marine who works in supplies?

"Box kickers" have boring Marine jobs. They're the people who catalog and move supplies.


If everyone is "aboard," what does it mean?

In the Marines, if everyone is "aboard," all men and women are accounted for. It means the unit can move on to its next objective.


Who is Lance Cpl. Schmuckatelli?

It's a term of derision reserved for the guys who messes up continually -- Lance Cpl. Schmuckatelli. He's the man (or woman) who seems to screw up every possible task.


What's a Marine term for helmet?

If you're a Marine in combat, you can't forget your brain bucket. That helmet might deflect shrapnel and bullets and keep you safe.


In the Marines, "ARMY" is an acronym for what?

In the Marines, ARMY is an amusing acronym. It means, "Ain't Ready to be a Marine Yet."


What does it mean if you hear "Semper I"?

The Marines motto is "Semper Fi," which means "always faithful." "Semper I" means a Marine has acted selfishly, serving the "I" instead of the team.


True or false, in the Marines, does "kill" always mean to actually kill?

"Kill" is not always an order to take a life. In the Marines, it may simply be an exclamation used in many different situations.


If a Marine is acting like a civilian, he or she is _____.

For some Marines, being discharged is a wonderful day. It means he or she is "back on the block."


What's an acronym for the prescription glasses that some Marines receive at boot camp?

"BCG" are boot camp glasses, and they are as clunky as they sound. Marines don't wear their for their fashion appeal.


What's a term for discarding of an item by tossing it overboard?

Need to get rid of some military junk? "Deep six" it by tossing it overboard.


What's a "ninja punch"?

A "ninja punch" is non-judicial punishment. It's when a commanding officer punishes a Marine, but without resorting to the justice system.


Who is the "grand old man"?

It's a tradition of sorts in the Marines. The oldest guy in the unit is called the "grand old man," and he's seen some stuff.


What's a term for a disgusting type of field ration?

Marines rarely eat amazing meals. "Bag nasty" is another insulting term used to describe terrible field rations.


If Marines say "yut!" what are they expressing?

"Yut" is another term for enthusiastic affirmation. "Soldier, do you want to blow up stuff?" "Yut!"


What do Marines do with "bug juice"?

"Bug juice" is insect repellent. In some areas, it's the difference between Marines being comfortable or miserable.


What's a derisive term for Marines who spend all of their time in an office setting?

PowerPoint rangers are the men and women who do tours of duty -- in an office. They are the Marines who mostly do battle with Blue Screens of Death.


What do Marines often say when they complete a task?

"BAMCIS" is a celebratory work marking a task's completion. It's an acronymy for the Marines troop leadership steps. In short, it stands for begin planning, arrange reconnaissance, make reconnaissance, complete the planning, issue the order, and supervise.


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