It's Time to Sandpaper the Anchor: World War II Lingo Quiz



By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

You won't get any pocket lettuce for knowing what a hash burner or ginkus is, but World War II produced all sorts of fun lingo. So put that in your mess kit and let's go!

If you were tired of marching you might say WHAT part of you was tired?

When your feet were exhausted from a long march, you might say that your "dogs" were exhausted.


What was a "piss pot"?

Standard helmets looked a bit like chamber pots from the olden days. They were called piss pots.


If your fellow soldier spent a lot of time "beating his gums," what was he doing?

Idle chatter is a way of life for soldiers. If you beat your gums a lot, you can't stop talking.


If the Nazis attacked with chemical weapons, what did you really need?

"Pig snout" was slang for gas mask. They were an unfortunate necessity during the war.


"Ash can" was another term for what?

Depth charges must have reminded some soldiers of cans for cigarette ashes. They called them "ash cans."


When soldiers "went on a toot," what did it mean?

Soldiers were known to blow off steam by consuming copious quantities of alcohol. Going on a toot was fun ... until the next morning.


Which branch of the military despised "ack-ack"?

"Ack-ack" was slang for anti-aircraft fire. Slow-moving bombers were ripe targets for ack-ack.


If your superior told you to "taxi up," what would you do?

If your superior told you to taxi up, it meant that he wanted you to approach him so that he could chat with you. How else would he break the news that you're about to charge enemy lines?


"Tell it to the Marines." Why would you say that phrase to someone?

You want someone to help you dig that foxhole? I don't care -- tell it to the Marines!


What did it mean if something was "all wet"?

You want a frontal assault on dug-in Nazi troops armed with thousands of machine guns? That idea's all wet -- in other words, it's a bad idea.


If a soldier was doing a "blanket drill," what was he really doing?

Blanket drills were painfully rare for men on the front line. But when they had a chance, they loved napping.


Which branch of the service might "lay an egg"?

To "lay an egg," meant to loose a bomb. The Allied air forces dropped countless bombs during the conflict.


What did soldiers call canned milk?

Canned milk was called armored cow. If you didn't have a can-opener handy, good luck getting at the not-so-delicious concoction.


What was a "misery pipe"?

Hear that bugle blowing? The misery pipe is calling you men to wake up and face another day at war.


Who was the "devil beater"?

When things got ugly or someone was about to die, the devil beater (or chaplain) was there to say prayer and help soldiers make peace with God.


Why didn't soldiers like "bunk lizards?

Some soldiers loved blanket drills entirely too much. They were lazy bunk lizards.


When would you be happy to see a "juice jerker"?

"Juice," of course, is slang for electricity. So if you need power, you want an electrician, or juice jerker.


What's "BTO"?

If someone brags a lot, they might be a BTO, or Big Time Operator, someone with an inflated sense of self worth.


The term "gremlins" first arose in World War II, particularly in reference to malfunctions with what?

Aircraft mechanics loathed gremlins, which were mysterious malfunctions that plagued planes of the era. These days, the word gremlin often refers to the little movie stars of the famous film.


What did it mean to "prang" a target?

If you could "prang" a target, it was good news. It meant that you destroyed it.


What did it mean to "roll up your flaps"?

If another soldier told you to roll up your flaps, it meant that you needed to stop talking...because you're driving people crazy, already.


If soldiers were "bubble dancing," what were they doing?

Someone always has to clean dishes at the mess hall. Sometimes that particular chore was called bubble dancing.


What was a slang term for machine gun?

Machine guns had all sorts of nicknames. One was "devil's piano." You didn't want to be on the business end of one of these terrifying weapons.


World War II soldiers that ate "tiger meat" were actually consuming what product?

"Tiger meat" was slang for beef. Quality beef, as you can imagine, was tough to come by during the conflict.


If you were upset about something, you might be WHAT?

There was a lot to be angry about during wartime. It was appropriate that many people were "browned off," frustrated and furious about the conflict.


How did soldiers feel when they got "duck soup"?

War is filled with awful, ugly tasks. But "duck soup" referred to easy chores. You definitely wanted the duck soup.


Army sausages were sometimes called what?

Do you have any idea what's really in that Army sausage? That's why those weenies are called bags of mystery.


What were "prunes"?

Army food wasn't the greatest. And Army strawberries were particularly gross ... they were derisively called prunes.


What would you call an Air Force member who doesn't fly in planes?

Not every member of the Air Force cruises through the skies. Those who stay on the ground are called penguins, because penguins don't fly.


It was a very good thing when soldiers "checked out."

Checking out meant that you were going home, all right. But it meant you were going home in a body bag.


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