Only 12% of Women Know All of This U.S. Navy lingo!


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/gettyimages

About This Quiz

You’ve been using the Cadillac all day to clean every nook and cranny of the USS Enterprise. And maybe in two more years, you’ll actually be done. Until then, grab some mid-rats from the roach coach, chow down, and hit the rack. This is the life of a modern-day sailor. In this briny quiz, do you recall some of the most common Navy lingo? You might have watched every Navy flick around, but you won't get all these from you viewing!

Whether you’re the wife of a sailor or a proud Navy dad, you have to know at least some of the lingo, otherwise, you’ll never know half of what the men of the sea are saying. And trust us, when they say to “nuke it,” it has nothing to do with a microwave or an attack on Russia. A “pad eye” isn’t a cosmetics term, it’s part of the ship that helps secure aircraft.

For roll call, sailors (and soldiers, too) will muster around the captain for their orders. And once they have those orders? Time for a show of gun decking, and then they can start a new water war.

Pass the chit and go below decks in this Navy quiz now! If you fail, you’ll walk the planks for piracy!

What's a Navy term for the restroom?

Did you eat some revolting chow in the mess hall that ruined your stomach? Better run to the head, or the restroom, before the big waves hit.


What's a term for a sailor's mop bucket?

In the Navy, you'll never drive an El Dorado. But you will drive a Cadillac, all right -- that nice mop bucket with the wheels. Have fun, swabbie!


Where on a ship does a "snipe" work?

A snipe is a sailor who works below deck. Many snipes specialize in certain ship systems, from electrical to the engine room.


On a ship, what's the "CO"?

In the Navy, and in other branches of the military, the CO is God. It refers to your commanding officer.


"Tubes" is a sometimes nickname for sailors on what sort of ship?

On a submarine, "Tubes" has an important job. He's the the guy in charge of the torpedoes.


What's a Navy slang term for Marines?

The military is full of dark humor, for obvious reasons. In the Navy, some refer to Marines as "bullet sponges."


What does it mean if a ship goes "aground"?

Captains who run their ships aground aren't in command for long. It means that the ship has struck the ground, perhaps in shallow water.


What's a term for "downwind"?

Wind is always on the minds of ship captains. If something is downwind, it's "alee."


A "knee knocker" refers to which part of a ship?

The watertight doors you see on many ships have knee-high frames. Run into "knee knockers" with your shins and you'll be cursing the sea gods.


What do naval aviators do with "zoom bags"?

"Zoom bags" are flight suits. In battle, naval aviators don their zoom bags in a rush and ride off into the danger zone.


What happens in the "brig" of a ship?

Drink too much and get in a fistfight while in port? You're headed to the brig, sailor … in handcuffs.


How do sailors earn the title of "shellback"?

Sailors have all sorts of traditional ways of tracking their experiences. They notch their first Equator crossing to earn the title of "shellback."


What's the flight deck sometimes called?

On large ships like aircraft carriers, sailors stroll along the flight deck. It's also called the "roof."


What's a "blue nose" sailor?

Blue nose sailors are the people who've gone to the ends of the Earth on ships. They've crossed the Antarctic or Arctic circles … or both.


If you see a signal for Oscar in the Navy, what does it mean?

It's one of the scariest moments at sea -- when a sailor goes overboard. "Oscar" is the term that means man overboard.


In the Navy, what's a term for a water fountain?

Navy sailors often call it a "scuttlebutt." The water fountain is where many sailors exchange gossip and ship news.


What do sailors do with "geedunk"?

"Geedunk" is any manner of barely edible food. It might even come from a vending machine.


An airdale is a sailor who works on or around what?

Airdales are sailors, all right. But they're also the men and women who specialize in work on or around various aircraft.


True or false: Are "yardbirds" in the Navy?

Not at all. Yardbirds are civilians. They're the folks who work at shipyards, repairing the damage caused by sailors.


In "VERTREP," ships get replenishment from which source?

It's "vertical replenishment," because materiel comes from the skies. It's when helicopters provide ships with fresh supplies like food and ammunition.


What's a Navy term for pushing something to its fastest possible speed?

To go "buster" means to go all-out. And in the Navy, during wartime, going buster is a high priority.


The JAG handles which aspect of the Navy?

The JAG is the Judge Advocate General's Corps, which handles many aspects of law enforcement in the Navy. And yes, there was a popular TV series all about JAG.


What happens on "field day"?

Sure a "field day" sounds like a lot of fun, but it's not. It means everyone is ordered to clean the ship from top to bottom.


What's another word for a bed on a ship?

By the time you get to bed, you'll be too tired to notice you're sleeping next to 100 other men. Time to "rack" out.


What does "COC" stand for?

It's a fact of life in the military -- the chain of command, or COC. Without it, the Navy would be nothing but chaos.


What's notable about a "kiddie cruise"?

It's slang for short reservist missions. Kiddie cruises are just brief outings that train reservists for their jobs.


True or false, is it a good thing when something's "adrift"?

It's a very bad thing when something, especially a ship, is adrift. It means it's out of control.


A "golden shellback" crosses the Equator and what boundary at the same time?

It's a rare achievement for sailors. Those who become golden shellbacks do so by crossing the Equator and the International Date Line at the same time.


What's a term for when sailors get excited to leave the ship?

After weeks or months at sea, it's no wonder sailors are thrilled at a chance to walk on terra firma. They have "channel fever."


In olden days, what was a "pollywog"?

Pollywogs were the inexperienced men who had never crossed the Equator. As such, they were subject to all sorts of derision from veterans.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!