The NATO Military Alphabet Quiz

By: Beth Hendricks

The NATO Military Alphabet Quiz
Image: Stocktrek Images / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

About This Quiz

What did you say? I didn't hear you! You're breaking up. Our connection is bad! Can you call me back? If you've ever been a part of communication where one of these phrases was uttered, you know how disruptive and frustrating it can be to make sure you got the message correctly. Did you ever play the "Telephone Game" when you were younger? In short, you'd sit in a circle or row with a phrase being whispered to the first person, who then had to relay it to the next, and so on and so forth, until it reached the last participant. A phrase that may have started as, "Make me a pancake!" could wind up sounding like "Maybe he's at the lake!" 

Things get lost in translation; that's just the way it goes. That's why the military, and the worldwide military alliance known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (or NATO), adopted one alphabet by which it can communicate. This helps to eliminate misspoken or misheard words because everything is using the Sierra Alpha Mike Echo ... SAME language! The International Civil Aviation Organization actually created the language to help unify and simplify communications.

So, we know you already know your regular alphabet, but how well do you know NATO's military alphabet? Take the simplest, hardest quiz you may ever experience by matching letters A to Z with their corresponding code words. Just Whiskey India November! (Did you get it?!)

Military Mission At the beginning is always a good place to start. This word that represents "A" signals the start of the Greek alphabet. What is it?
Aqua
Alpha
"Alpha" represents the beginning of many things, including the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It is also mentioned in the Bible, as the "Alpha and Omega," the beginning and the end.
After
Atom

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Army helicopter You might shout this word, which represents "B," after an opera performance. Which word is it?
Basic
Bella
Bravo
The word "bravo" is often used to bestow praise upon someone or something. The NATO alphabet uses it to represent the letter "B." During World War II, the word used for "B" was actually "baker."
Babble

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Soldiers edit Before the military started using this word for "C," it relied on the word "cast." What is the current choice?
Charlie
Most of us recognize the word "Charlie" as a man's name, typically a shortened version of the more formal name, Charles. Before "Charlie," the NATO alphabet turned to the word "cast," but changed it before the start of World War II.
Cable
Comet
Career

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Air Force It's the name of a popular airline but also serves as the "D" in the NATO alphabet. Which word are we referencing?
Dash
Dairy
Dawn
Delta
Most everyone has heard of Delta Airlines, but did you know the word "delta" is also useful in the NATO alphabet? Prior to "delta," the alphabet made use of the word "dog." Nothing like a little puppy love from the military!

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F-22 Raptor Helloo-ooo-oooo ... Shouting into the Grand Canyon will produce which of these? It's also the term used for the letter "E."
Earth
Echo
Thanks to your voice traveling at the speed of sound all the way to the canyon's bottom and back up again, you'll be able to hear whatever you said delivered to you in the form of an echo. It is the NATO alphabet's fifth letter, taking the place of the previously-used "easy."
Edit
Egg

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US Navy Ship It's a word that is also a type of dance, starting with an "F." Which of these is it?
Foxtrot
When the military uses the word "foxtrot," they're not talking about dancing (most likely), but it is a type of dance made up of long, graceful moves. The word "trot" was added to the word "fox" that was used before the current iteration.
Facility
Falcon
Fang

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US Army Tank You can play 18 holes of this, or you can let your military buddies know you mean "G." What word is it?
Gene
Galaxy
Gauge
Golf
Fore! You can go play golf, talking about golf or use the word "golf" to convey the letter "G" when speaking in the military language. It wasn't always "golf," though. The military used the name "George" for a while, too.

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US Navy There have been many words to represent the letter "H" in the alphabet's history, but the current one is more commonly associated with brands like Hyatt and Motel 6. What is it?
Hangar
Hotel
Have ... Hypo ... How ... Hotel? No, it's not a weird coded message; it's all of the words that start with "H" that have represented part of the military alphabet. One thing seems clear: The body that comes up with these words can't make up their mind on "H!"
Hallmark
Happy

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US Army transport New Delhi is the capital of this country, the name of which is used for the letter "I." Which country are we talking about?
India
Travel with us to India, the word that represents the letter "I" in the military alphabet. India's capital is, indeed, New Delhi, but the military is far more concerned with the word's use in their alphabet. It's certainly less of a mouthful than a previous choice: Interrogatory!
Iran
Iceland
Israel

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US Army The "J" in question here is a female's name that even William Shakespeare was partial to. Which name is it?
Javelin
Joyce
Jude
Juliett
Though he spelled it "Romeo and Juliet," Shakespeare knew what was up! The military started using the word "Juliett" following World War II; before, the word to represent "J" in the alphabet was "jig."

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Military gear You might think of this word as a unit of measure, but the military just thinks of it as "K." Which one are we talking about?
Keeper
Kilo
You may associate the term "kilo" with a unit of measurement, like kilogram or kilometer, but it has special significance for the armed forces who use it as their "K." Before they called it "kilo," the word for "K" was more royal — "king."
King
Koala

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Army Mission What do the military alphabet, beans and Peru have in common? How about this word. What is it?
Lima
Lima, Peru ... Lima beans ... or "lima" as the military "L." The word "lima" connects all of these vastly different things. Maybe they thought the previous word, "love," was a bit too romantic?
Labor
Lasso
Latex

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Radio Soldier It's an abbreviated name for a device that helps to amplify sound. It's also the "M" in the NATO alphabet. Which word are we talking about?
Mark
Matt
Mike
Though the sound amplifier is technically called a microphone and, yes, it most commonly abbreviated as a "mic," we think it's close enough. Of course, the word "Mike" is also a popular man's name ... and a popular alphabet choice. It is the longstanding representation of the letter "M" for the NATO alphabet.
Machine

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Military We commonly associate a popular fall holiday with this word. Bring on the turkey and which of these choices?
Nashville
Necco
November
November is the 11th month of the year, the prelude to the Christmas season and the word the military uses for the letter "N." Previously, "N" has been associated with the words nan, negative and negat.
Neptune

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Soldier and veterans Hollywood actors clamor for this award, the same name used for the military's "O." Which word is it?
Oscar
"Oscar" might be one of the more well-known letters of the military alphabet, and it's undoubtedly famous in Hollywood, but for other reasons — The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars. The military has also used the words "oboe" and "option" in history.
Oreo
October
Olympic

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Military Mission You could call your dad "father," or this word that represents the letter "P." Which one are we referencing?
Pack
Palm
Papa
"Papa" is another word for father, used primarily by children, it seems. It is also the word for the letter "P" in the NATO alphabet, coming after previous attempts with "pup," "preparatory" and "prep."
Parrot

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Soldier in forest This city is located in eastern Canada and is the same word used for the letter "Q." Where are we "traveling" to?
Quebec
Quebec is a province located in the eastern part of Canada and is also the quirky "Q" in military communication. It wasn't always the first choice, though. Other words like "queen" and "quack" were tried out before "Quebec."
Quint
Quark
Quetta

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MQ-9 Drone We have to lean on Shakespeare again for this one. He used this word in a play that the military uses for its "R." Which one is it?
Richard
Raphael
Romeo
Apparently, the military has a secret love affair with "Romeo and Juliet" since it uses both terms in its alphabet. They've also used "Rush" and "Roger," but we don't think either flows as nicely with Juliet(t).
Rodeo

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Military Mountain In prior years, you could "sail" away or steal some "sugar," but now the military uses this word — the first part of a western U.S. mountain range. What word are we referencing?
Samson
Sagittarius
Safari
Sierra
Military, meet the Sierra Nevada Mountains. "Sierra," meet the military. This is the current representation of the letter "S," though previous S-words have included "sail" and "sugar."

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Tank This word represents the letter "T" and a popular dance with South American origins. What is it?
Tango
It takes two to tango or, in this case, a few hundred thousand NATO military members who use the word "tango" in place of the letter "T." It's their first tango with, well, "tango," previously using only the word "tare."
Tabby
Target
Tartan

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Soldier Uniform This word (for "U") represents the concept NATO was going for in creating a common alphabet. What term are we talking about?
Ulcer
Uniform
Creating a uniform language for all military members was part of the reason this alphabet was created, so it's only fitting that the letter "U" is represented by the word "uniform." They've also used the word "unit" and "uncle."
Unicorn
Underwear

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Soldiers victory The word that represents the letter "V" is missing from this phrase: To the ________ go the spoils." Which word is missing?
Valentine
Valiant
Victor
The saying, "To the victor go the spoils," is a phrase that means the winner gains the prize. The military's use of the word "victor" has been in place since the late 1930s when it replaced the word "vice."
Vail

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Soldier Patrol This word, also the letter "W," is made from fermented grain mash ... or so we've heard. What is it?
Wild
Water
Wine
Whiskey
Whiskey, if that's your thing, is a dark liquor made from fermented grain mash. Jack Daniels is a popular brand. It is used as the military's "W," replacing previous selections including "watch" and "William."

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U.S. Air Force The choices are pretty limited with "X," so the military chose this word, which has been in use since the early 1900s. Which one are we talking about?
Xerox
X-ray
When you go hunting for words that begin with "X," you'll find your options are pretty small. The body that created this alphabet, then, settled on the word "X-ray" and have not veered from it since.
Xylophone
Xmas

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Soldier and family The military shares this word with a popular baseball team that wears pinstripes. What word is "Y?"
Yankee
From The New York Yankees and the military's "Y" to a disparaging term Southerners sometimes use for Northerners, the word "Yankee" has found its place in multiples places in American society. It replaced the use of the word "yoke" in the NATO alphabet.
Yap
Yard
Yiddish

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Army Helmet Travel to South Africa and you'll find an ethnic group by this name, a word that is also used for "Z." What is it?
Zany
Zambia
Zucchini
Zulu
The Zulu people are the biggest ethnic group in South Africa, and their name has also become a part of the military's language. It serves to represent the letter "Z," replacing previous choices that included "zed" and "zebra."

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