Culture

42 Bizarre Slang Terms People Actually Used During World War II  

Robert F Mason
2.1k votes 240 voters 8.7k views 42 items

As one of the most devastating conflicts in the 20th century, World War II permanently changed the social and political landscape of the world for generations to come. However, it also had an indelible impact on the English language. World War II slang terms often centered around military life, but many of these words and sayings are still popular today.  Expressions from World War II that are still commonly used include: "baloney!" to mean "bullsh*t," "beat it" meaning "go away," "copacetic" for "very good," referring to a betrayal as being "double-crossed," and even proclaiming "for crying out loud" when you're frustrated.

However, much of this World War II-era slang fell by the wayside, which is a shame because it was rather colorful to say the least. So, compiled here is a collection of some of World War II's most interesting slang terms for all you modern speakers who are looking for alternatives to the "baes," "lits," and emojis that have overtaken our world.

And when you've finished memorizing all your WWII verbiage, be sure to check out slang from the 1930s, the 1950s, and the era of the American hobo and we'll have you talkin' like an old-timer lickety-split!

1
P.D.Q.

Pretty damn quick.

2
Beat Your Gums

To engage in useless or pointless chit-chat. "Quit beating your gums and get to work."

3
Cooking With Gas

Being wise to something.

4
High Hat

A snob, usually rich.

5
Bunk Lizard

A lazy person whose only passion in life is sleeping.

6
Borrowed Brass

Liquid courage; a sense of bravado brought on by alcohol inebriation or being high on drugs.

7
Tell It To The Marines

I don't care about your problem. Go tell someone else.

8
All Wet

Bad, terrible. "That idea is all wet."

9
Applesauce

Nonsense, ridiculousness. "Knock off that applesauce, kids."

10
Bushwa

Bullsh*t.

11
Gams

Legs, particularly on women.

12
File 13

The trash; throwing something away by putting it in File 13.

13
Clam

A US dollar.

14
Wilco

"Will comply." Meaning, "I'll do it."

15
Short Arm

Penis.

16
Balled Up

Messed up.

17
Glad Rags

A person's best clothes.

18
Pocket Lettuce

Paper money.

19
Dead Battery

A pessimist; an irritable or gloomy person.

20
Chair-Borne Infantry

Desk workers; can also be revised to refer to keyboard warriors or Internet tough guys.

21
Cat's Beer

Milk.

22
Palooka

An incompetent boxer; someone who is bad at something.

23
Cheaters

Eyeglasses.

24
Mind Your Potatoes

Mind your own business.

25
Jane-Crazy

Overly fond of women.