Quiz: How Well Do You Know Unofficial Military Acronyms?
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How Well Do You Know Unofficial Military Acronyms?
By: John Miller
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

The United States Armed Forces are the second-largest employer in America. As such, it might as well be its own country … and it definitely has its own language. You’ll find more acronyms in the military than you will at some computer companies. A lot of those acronyms fall outside official recognition, but almost everyone in uniform knows what they mean. In this quiz, we’ll present slang acronyms of the soldier's life, do you think you know what they mean?

There are thousands and thousands of official military acronyms. A “COP” is a Combat Outpost, and “EOD” is Explosive Ordnance Disposal. But there are a whole lot of slang acronyms, too. In the Air Force, there’s “GIB”, referring to the Guy In the Back – he’s the aviator who rides in the backseat of the plane. Or how about “HIC”? That’s the officer with his or her head in the clouds, totally unable to make sound decisions.

We all know what the Navy is. But “NAVY,” in some quarters, means “Never Again Volunteer Yourself,” as in, what were you thinking when you enlisted? And in every branch of the service, one must deal with “LHOs” or Large Heavy Objects.

Take cover in this military acronym quiz now! Are you a Marine or a USMC (“Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children”)?

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Remember this one? What does "BGB" stand for?

A BGB is a "Big Gray Boat." It's what many soldiers and sailors use when they see the long, broad sides of huge Navy ships.

On a nuclear submarine, it's the sailor who has the least amount of time left in the service. He's the SNOB, the Shortest Nuke Onboard.

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Do you know what "POL" stands for?

Trying to perform vehicle maintenance? You definitely need POL, or Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants.

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What does "LN" mean to military folk?

An "LN" is a local national. LNs often work on U.S. military bases scattered around the world.

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Which option describes what "OBE" stands for?

If circumstances are dictating the situation instead of the soldiers who should be in control, those troops are OBE. They've been Overcome By Events.

If you're on your last months of active duty but getting lazier by the day, you're ROAD. You're Retired On Active Duty.

No, you can't drive that tank off base. But you can take your POV, or your Privately Owned Vehicle.

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Remember this one? What does "LRA" stand for?

Are you the LRA, or Lowest-Ranking Airman in your unit? Guess what? You get stuck doing all of the task that no one else wants.

It's a derivative of HALO, or High-Altitude, Low-Opening, when paratroopers jump from a high plane and open their 'chutes at low altitude. A HANO, then, is when there's No Opening … meaning a sky soldier's parachute didn't work and he is now probably dead.

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Do you actually know what "LT" stands for?

You've heard this one in 1,000 war movies. "LT" is short for Lieutenant.

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If you're a NUB, you're dead weight. You're a Non-Useful Body, and for whatever reason, you don't contribute to the team effort.

You know how your supervisor at the office gets a "great" idea that winds up making more work for everyone? In the service, that's a GOBI, a General Officer Bright Idea.

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Which option describes what "D4D" stands for?

It's an old Air Force joke, because most people in this branch don't get to zoom around in planes. Instead, they fly D4Ds … desks with four drawers.

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Remember what "GI" stands for?

The term "GI" has been around for decades and refers to people in the service. Some say it stands for "Government Issue," essentially meaning that soldiers were just replaceable cogs in the machine of war.

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What does "CHT" mean to military folk?

In the Navy, CHT stands for "Collection, Holding, and Transfer" systems, which sometimes break, spilling sewage all over the floors. Thus, CHT is often shorthand for the sewage itself.

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Do you actually know what "RTU" stands for?

You just couldn't stop messing around during that training exercise, could you? So you got RTU, Returned To Unit, or sent back to base.

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What does "DJ" translate to?

Some folks use DJ when referring to the F-22 Raptor. The DJ is an ultra-deadly, ultra-futuristic, and ultra-expensive project meant to offer air superiority all over the planet.

Did you really get that order, soldier? "HUA" means you "Heard, Understood, and Acknowledged" a directive.

PFCIC is Private First Class in Charge … a derisive term. It refers to privates who tried to exert more power than they really should.

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During the Gulf War era, DICK took on ominous tones. It referred to some soldiers as DICK, as they were Dedicated Infantry Combat Killers.

You don't want to be a JEEP on a battlefield. It means you're Junior Enlisted Expendable Personnel.

It's home sweet home to many troops. A CHU is a containerized housing unit, often not much more than a big cargo box outfitted with a few living conveniences.

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Do you actually know what "EGA" stands for?

You'll find this one in the Marines, thanks to the distinctive insignia you find on their uniforms. It's Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

BUFF is "Big Ugly Fat Fellow," which refers to the huge B-52 Stratofortress. There's also a less family-friendly version of this one, and we'll not publish it here.

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Which option describes what "FTA" stands for?

In the Marines, it means you couldn't hack the situation. You experienced FTA, or Failure To Adapt.

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What does "DA Form 1" mean to military folk?

It's a standing (or sitting) joke in the service. If someone says they need "DA Form 1" one, they really want some toilet paper.

It's pronounced "dee-ross," and it's usually a good thing. DROS stands for Date Returned From Overseas.

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In the service, from guns to tanks, there are a lot of ways to hurt yourself. "DNKH" is short for "Damn Near Killed Himself."

During the 1991 Gulf War, some non-Muslims identified battlefield objects in shorthand. "BMO" was Black Moving Object, and referred to women who wore traditional black robes called burkhas.

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It's not CNN, it's PNN. And that's the Private News Network, the gossipy grapevine that soldiers use to spread (mis)information.

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