U.S. Military Slang To Know If You Want To Avoid A "Soup Sandwich"

Voting Rules
Soldiers and veterans only: vote up the slang terms and phrases that are actually used in the armed services.

Anyone who has spent time in the armed forces can attest to the fact that it feels like a separate world. Soldiers even have their own language, full of military slang and terms that seem largely foreign to the rest of us. Soldier slang is nothing new; it's been employed as far back as the American Revolution, and some terms have made their way into mainstream vernacular. "Boots on the ground," "in the trenches," and "no man's land" are all soldier phrases that either come from the Marines, Army, Navy, or another military branch.

Given that serving in the military is such an exclusive experience, having a common, coded language inspires camaraderie. Military code words and slang are especially useful when describing military training programs or what it is like to endure unusual military hygiene regulations. Language is a unifying resource for U.S. servicemen and women. And if you're more of an airman or woman, be sure to check out our list on US Airforce slang you should know.

Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos / Public Domain/Wikimedia

  • 1
    284 VOTES


    Meaning: A bathroom. On ships, the toilet was often placed at the bow, or head, of the vessel. The term "head" is used primarily by the Navy and other maritime forces, while the Army calls it a latrine.

    Use It In A Sentence: "Winters chugged three Diet Cokes and then made a beeline for the head."

    284 votes
  • 2
    250 VOTES

    Barracks Rat

    Meaning: Military personnel who choose not to leave the barracks during downtime. Often they will stay in, watch TV, and play video games. 

    Use It In A Sentence: "Don't bother asking Jenkins to come along. He's a barracks rat and has a hot date with his PlayStation."

    250 votes
  • 3
    257 VOTES

    Fart Sack

    Meaning: A sleeping bag. The name likely derives from the fact that if a soldier has to pass gas, it will become trapped in the insulated sleeping bag.

    Use It In A Sentence: "It's 0500! Get out of your fart sack!"

    257 votes
  • 4
    230 VOTES

    Fruit Salad

    Meaning: The medals and ribbons on a service member's uniform. In other words, military bling.

    Use It In A Sentence: "I was blinded by all the light reflected off the four impressive rows of fruit salad on his chest."

    230 votes
  • 5
    196 VOTES


    Meaning: A helicopter pilot. The term could also refer to an aviation mechanic.

    Use It In A Sentence: "I was a rotorhead in the Army for four years and flew some of the biggest choppers we had."

    196 votes
  • 6
    202 VOTES


    Meaning: Slang for the Army-issued poncho liner when it is used as a blanket instead of its intended purpose. Most woobies are made of a polyester filling encased in two layers of nylon. First employed during the Vietnam War, it is still a popular Army essential.

    Use It In A Sentence: "My woobie kept me warm all night. Don't know what I'd do without it."

    202 votes