|U.S. Army photo|
The following is a selection of Korean War slang terms, mostly derived from the late Brig. Gen. Uzal W. Ent's definitive publication, Fighting on the Brink: Defense of the Pusan Perimeter. Most terms are particular to the Army; others are regional adaptations gathered through the U.S. occupation of Japan from 1945-52.
ASAP - as soon as possible.
AWOL - absent without leave. To be absent from one's unit without proper authority.
Benjo - toilet. Borrowed from Japanese language.
Better believe it! - phrase meaning "that's the truth."
Blow it out your barracks bag! - a phrase similar to "Go to hell!"
Bought the farm - killed or died; usually, killed in action.
Buddy - close friend or when in combat, the co-inhabitant of a foxhole.
Bug Out or bugout - to withdraw rapidly from a combat position.
Chimpo - to have bad luck.
Chop chop - hurry up.
Chow - food; a meal.
Chow down - to eat.
Chow line - line up of personnel receiving food; similarly, the line up of food servers and related apparatus formed in a mess area (field kitchen).
Church key - a small can opener used to open C-rations or beer cans.
Cow patties - anti-personnel mines.
Cut a trail - leave or depart.
Dear John letter - correspondence from a wife or girl friend back home indicating that she is breaking off her relationship with the letter's recipient.
Dig in - prepare a foxhole or similar defensive position.
Dog Robber - an enlisted man employed as an aide or servant to a senior officer.
Doggies: Army infantrymen. Derived from the expression "dog face," which describes a soldier badly in need of a shave.
Dud - (1) a round of defective, unexploded ammunition. (2) A person of limited intellect.
First Shirt - First sergeant.
FUBAR - F*cked Up Beyond All Recognition.
Go for broke - Go all out to win, without reservation. Originated by the all-Japanese 442 Infantry regiment during World War II.
Gook - any oriental. This was actually a malapropism; the Korean term for American was "megook." maladaptation of the term was immediate.
Hank Snow - disappear. Run away without notice. "He pulled a Hank Snow." Inspired by the popular country-western singer Hank Snow's "Movin' On," a song adapted by American soldiers into "Bugout Boogie," a Korean War anthem of sorts.
Hit the road - get out of here; go away.
Hot poop - the latest orders or situational information.
How Able - move out in a hurry, usually in retreat. "Let's How Able outta here."
Hubba hubba - verbal expression of delight when observing a pretty girl.
Ichi-bahn (Ee-chee-bahn) - Number one; best.
Incoming or incoming mail - enemy artillery or mortar fire received at one's position.
Jaw bone - on credit; a verbal agreement.
Lead-pipe cinch - a certainty, something easy to accomplish, or both.
LSMFHT - "Lord, Save Me From Harry Truman." Truman's executive order automatically added a year to the enlistments of all men in service at the onset of the Korean War.
Meat wagon - ambulance.
Midnight (or moonlight) requisition - to steal military property from a warehouse or similar storage without permission or authority.
Mussamay - Japanese girlfriend. Often shortened to "moose."
Ninety-day wonder - a 2nd lieutenant graduate of officer candidate school (OCS).
On your feet - stand up and get ready to move out.
Over the hill - to go AWOL.
Rotate - to return to the U.S. from Korea.
Sack sack - any particularly sloppy and/or dim-witted soldier.
Saddle up - get your equipment and get ready to move out.
Seoul City Sue - nickname given to a woman who made radio broadcasts in English on behalf of the enemy.
Short round - a soldier who was always in trouble.
Scuttlebutt - rumors or gossip.
SNAFU - situation normal, all f*cked up.
S.O.S. - creamed chipped beef on toast, a traditional army meal. Alternatively, "same old sh*t" or "sh*t on a shingle."
Swabbies or swab jockeys - sailors.
Top - first sergeant.
Top kick - First sergeant.
What's up, doc? - what's happening?
White money - cash currency, compared to cigarettes used as (unofficial) black-market currency.
Willie peter - a type of artillery shell with an incendiary discharge and lots of white smoke.
Yard bird - a dim-witted soldier.
You never had it so good - a phrase meaning that current conditions couldn't be improved.