NAVIGATE THE DICTIONARY - Numbers ¦ A ¦ B ¦ C ¦ D ¦ E ¦ F ¦ G ¦ H ¦ I ¦ J ¦  K ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ Z
Home Page ¦ Dictionary Cover ¦ Marine Quotes



500 cubic foot field space cooler or air conditioner. Requires a dedicated generator.


Humorous identification for a non-existent Air Force plane. See GU11.

BA 30/30

Government issue green Ray-o-vac "C" cell battery.

Ba Mu'o'i Ba

Brand name of a Vietnamese beer.



Baby Dicks

Hot dogs contained in MREs.

Bad Conduct Discharge

A discharge ranking between Honorable and Dishonorable. It is rumored that Walt Disney's Bad Conduct Discharge from the Marine Corps was framed and hung behind his desk--that its distinctive yellow color is seen in early introductions to "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" on ABC in the 1950s and 1960s. This is false--Walt Disney never served in ANY military service. Also called a Big Chicken Dinner.


To get as in, to bag some sleep.

Bag Drag

Being transferred, shipping out or moving to new quarters. From the act of dragging the sea bag from place to place.

Bag Nasty

A meal delivered in a paper bag, mostly during Marksmanship Training at boot camp but also at other times in the fleet. The reference is to the quality of the food contained in the bag.


Basic Allowance for Housing. A non-taxable stipend for personnel who do not reside on base but who rate housing.

Ball-bearing BAM

(1960s) Since most women Marines were assigned to administration (01xx) it was considered a “female MOS” and therefore a man assigned to admin was given this epithet.


A pejorative term for a Woman Marine, reportedly meaning broad assed Marine. Never used much in the presence of female Marines out of fear of bodily harm. Women Marine recruits in the 1960s, when it was most used, were taught that the letters meant "Beautiful American Marine". Known to have been used as early as World War II. It thankfully fell out of use in the late 20th Century.


A cloth or canvas container of several rounds of ammunition.


A linked belt of machine gun ammo.


Basic Allowance for Quarters.


Browning Automatic Rifle. The M1918A1 automatic rifle was first used by Marines in World War II until Vietnam.  It was replaced by the SAW--with a 24 year gap between them.

Bar Fine

An amount of money paid by bar girls in Subic Bay (Philippines) to be allowed to leave the bar or walk the streets.

Barnett, George

Twelfth Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Wisconsin native who was born on Dec. 9, 1859 became the first graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy to be appointed Commandant. He served as Major General Commandant from February 25, 1914 until June 30, 1920. He died April 27, 1930.


Buildings where single Marines live or a duty station where they serve.

Barracks Bitch

Marines who report to the FMF from Barracks Duty or any 0300 MOS who served on barracks duty before reporting to line companies in the fleet.

Barracks Cover

A frame cap with a leather bill and a metal hoop frame for the cloth covering. It has a chin strap which is usually worn setting above the bill and is adorned with a large eagle, globe and anchor above the chin strap.

Barracks Rat

A Marine who does nothing but stay home all day watching television and playing video games. The Marine equivalent to couch potato. Also a woman who hangs around a barracks, BEQ or BOQ for the purpose of giving or selling sexual favors.

Barrow, Robert H.

Twenty seventh Commandant of the Marine Corps serving from July 1, 1979 until June 30, 1983. He was born Feb. 5, 1922.


Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Money paid in lieu of using military dining facilities. Also Battalion Aid Station.

Base Pay

The amount a service member earns per month based on rank and years of service.

Basic School  

Basic training for new second lieutenants. Conducted at Quantico, VA.

Basket Leave

An extended leave of absence from duty (beyond a 96 for example) that ends up not being charged as leave. Often leave papers were actually filled out and approved, to cover everybody's ass in case the leave taker got arrested, killed or detained somehow while on leave. They remained in someone's In Basket, thus "basket leave" until the leave taker returned. The papers were then destroyed and the leave was never recorded. Usually an illegal way for a CO to reward someone or for your buddy the company clerk, to do you a favor. 


(Vietnam)A flare ship on station to drop illumination flares on command.


See Field Marshall and Drum Major.


A unit containing multiple companies. It is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. Battalions are normally assigned to a regiment.

Battalion Aid Station

A field medical unit. The first organized aid station a Marine will see when transported from the care of the front line corpsmen.


An artillery unit equivalent to an infantry company. Usually six guns used in support of an infantry battalion.

Battle Dressing

A rectangular medical dressing carried into battle by each Marine.

Battle Jacket

A service green uniform jacket with a faux belt and no skirt used from World War II until the mid-1960s. See Ike Jacket.

Battle Pin

Necktie clip.

Battle Stations

See General Quarters.


A knife-like weapon attached to the muzzle of a rifle used for hand-to-hand combat.


Army slang for a WWII period invention, it was the first of the modern rocket launched weapons and was made in 2.75" and 3.5" versions. They were used against tanks, vehicles and other profitable targets but they were plagued by electrical problems. They were replaced by the M72 LAW. The word was not used in the Marine Corps.

BB Stacker

Anyone dealing directly with ordnance.

BC Glasses

Marine Corps issue eyeglasses (officially F-9). Named Birth Control glasses by the troops due to their repulsive effect on the opposite sex.


Bad Conduct Discharge.


Battle Dress Uniform. The official name for cammies.

Beating A Dead Horse

A naval term meaning to work off advance pay on board ship--the period before you start earning money again. See Dead Horse.

Beef, Grease, and Shrapnel

C-Ration meal of Beefsteak, Potatoes and Gravy.


Stop. Make fast, from the Naval practice of tying off a line with a belaying pin. Disregard, as in "Belay my last".


A system of time on board ship. The routine day was broken into six watches of four-hours each. The watch on duty was responsible for maintaining the time so each half hour a bell would be rung beginning at 30 minutes into the watch with one bell and ending up at the end of the watch with eight bells. Watches began at 12, 4 and 8 so that at those times eight bells were struck.

Below Decks

The decks below the main weather deck of a ship. They are numbered from the main weather deck which is 1. Deck 7 is therefore seven decks below the main deck. See Superstructure.


Shortened form of benefit. All services provided to or for soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines are considered bennies.


Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (barracks).

Bestwick, Wilbur

First Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps served from May 23, 1957 until Aug 31, 1959. He was born in Sabetha, KS on Nov 27, 1911 and died in San Francisco, CA on July 10, 1972.

Betel nut

Narcotic seed nut chewed by Vietnamese villagers that turned their teeth and gums blood red.


The portion of a Navy enlisted uniform that hangs from the back of the neck. In the wooden navy it was fashion for sailors to have long hair but it would get blown about by the winds and get stuck in the rigging or machinery. To counteract this, sailors at sea would braid their hair and dip it in tar (used to seal the boards on the ship). When ashore on liberty (as opposed to a longer leave where they would wash the tar out of the hair) they would cut a bib out of sack cloth and tie it around their neck to keep from getting tar on their one good shirt. The bib eventually became an official part of the enlisted uniform.

Biddle, William

Eleventh Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Pennsylvania native was born on Dec. 17, 1853 and died on Feb. 25, 1923. He served as Acting Commandant in the rank of Colonel from Dec. 1, 1910 until Feb. 2, 1911 when he was appointed Major General Commandant and served until Feb. 12, 1914. During his commandancy the term of office was set, by law at 4 years.

Big Chicken Dinner

Bad Conduct Discharge.

Big Green Weenie

See Green Weenie.

Big Nasty

See Bag Nasty.


An acrid mix of sea water, petroleum products and other brackish material that settles to the bottom of a ship. Also, information that is of no value or garbage. Or to fail at something.

Bilge Rat

The sailors who drain and maintain the bilge on ship or a Marine who was assigned to bilge duty as a form of non-judicial punishment.


A specific job authorized within a unit structure.


In Naval and Marine Aviation a fuel level or condition requiring return to base or ship or aerial refueler.

Binjo Ditch

Rudimentary sewage ditches found throughout the Orient.

Bird Colonel

A full colonel.

Bird Farm

An aircraft carrier.

Bird, Ball and Chain

Eagle, Globe and Anchor (usually used by short timers).

Bird, Ball and Hook

A disrespectful reference to the modern emblem of the Marines, the eagle, globe and anchor.


A pejorative term for airmen.

  Birthday Ball

  Begun by Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune with Marine Corps Order 47, is a celebration of the founding of the Marine Corps every year on November 10.  Marines worldwide celebrate at balls and parties and bashes during which a birthday cake is cut using a Marine sword and the first piece is given to the guest of honor.  The second piece is given to the oldest Marine present.  The third piece is also given to the oldest Marine who passes it to the youngest Marine present, representing the passing on of the traditions of the Corps.

Bishop, Barbara

As a colonel she served as the fourth Director of Women Marines from 1964 to 1969.


The 1-MC on board ship or any amplified system used to pass information widely.

Black, Henry H.

Seventh Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps serving from June 1, 1975 until March 31, 1977. He was born Feb 9, 1929 in Imperial, PA.

Bladensburg Pike

Location of the Marine line of defense on the edge of Washington DC when the British attacked in the War of 1812. The Marines were overrun by superior forces but they earned the respect of their enemy. Some say the British spared the Commandant's House at 8th and I Streets SE out of respect.

Blanket Party

Used most often to "encourage" a screw up to mend his ways. While sleeping his platoon mates would sneak up on him or her, cover them with a blanket and administer numerous blows to the writhing mass. Not authorized and punishable under the UCMJ. Also not often used.


Anything overstuffed or a rubber fuel bladder. Also a modified fuel tank used to haul small cargo outside the aircraft. (WWII)Two pounds of shit in a one pound bag. Called a Herkimer in World War II.


To tighten or straighten a field scarf (necktie).

Blood Groove

A groove in a fighting knife or sword said to allow for blood to flow from a wound so that the blade can be removed easier (an apparent significant concern in close combat).  It is un-proven and false information that is told in boot camp and continues as an un-questioned "sea story."

Blood Stripe  

A red stripe worn down the outside of the legs on dress blue uniforms. It is worn by noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and commissioned officers, traditionally to honor the high number of casualties among those ranks at the Battle of Chapultepec in the Mexican War.

Bloop or Bloope

(Vietnam) Unofficial field command to hit a target with an M79 grenade launcher.


M79 grenade launcher. At least one is assigned to each squad of infantry Marines.


The service or dress coat worn by Marines. Also the act of tucking pant legs into boots so that the fabric "bloused" over the boots (worn mostly by Army personnel and in utilities). Additionally, the art of tucking in a shirt with military creases so that it appeared tight over the entire belt line and causing a slight overhang between the two outside creases in the back.

Blowing Smoke

Wasting time, talking for no purpose and to no effect.

Blown Away



Battalion Landing Team, main body of infantrymen that make up a MEU.

Blue Blood

Former enlisted Marine who crossed over and accepted a commission. See Mustang.

Blue Falcon

Intended to mean Buddy Fucker. Someone who causes trouble for another.

Blue Peter

The International Signal Flag for the letter P. It is a blue square with a white square within it. It signals that all hands are to return to ship as it is preparing to go to sea.

Blue Water Sailor

One who sails on the deep seas, as opposed to members of the Coast Guard who are Shallow Water Sailors. See Brown Water Navy.


The Dress Blue uniform.


  (Boot Camp)  Basic Marine Platoon. A platoon into which recently graduated Marines are placed if, for some reason, he or she can not depart right after graduation for leave or to attend further training or assignment directly to the fleet.  Anywhere else it is called "casual platoon."


Any small vessel incapable of making regular independent voyages on the high seas. Traditionally, a submarine.

Body Armor

Flak jacket.


An unidentified object, usually an aircraft, ship or other mobile weapons system.


Bend Over, Here It Comes Again.


Shoes with high sides, manufactured to 1917 specifications and famous for having the heels come off. Discontinued in the latter part of the 20th Century.


Anyplace out in the country.


Any situation in which the Marine gets more out of an assignment, job or situation than the Marine Corps. A good time at the Uncle's expense.

Boonie Hat

Field cover with a brim all the way around it. It became an issue item in 2001 when the no-iron cammies were introduced. May not be worn in garrison.




A recruit, a rookie, a newbie. Applicable to all U. S. military services.

Boot Camp.

In the Marine Corps it is officially Recruit Training and it is conducted at Marine Corps Recruit Depots at Parris Island SC and San Diego CA. Parents, friends and other relatives of Marine Corps Recruits can find help and understanding among the members of myMarine.


(OIF) A second lieutenant fresh to the fleet.  Does not apply to mustangs.

Boots and Utes

(Vietnam) A uniform combination consisting of the utility uniform (the uniform worn in the field) and boots. Most often prescribed for physical training events.

Boots, rubber, ugly

(WWII) The rubber “Mickey Mouse boots” issued for cold weather.


Bachelor Officer Quarters.


(Vietnam)Many, a large amount. From the Vietnamese French.

Bouncing Betty

A US anti-personnel mine that pops into the air to waist level before exploding.

Box of Grid Squares

One of the endless groups of nonexistent items that new members of a unit would be sent looking for. This one was used mainly in artillery.


Vietnamese word for doctor. Marines called their corpsmen by this name.


A Civil War era rank just below private. Boys were "apprenticed" to the Marine Corps (and the Navy) to learn useful jobs. Many later enlisted or joined the Marine Corps Band. In the Navy they were put on ship and made "powder monkeys".  While the Federal Navy was integrated before the Civil War and many blacks served in the Navy, black sailors were all free men.  With the arrival of Contrabands (former slaves "freed" by an act of war) permission was given to the Navy to enlist male Contrabands in the rank of Boy at half pay.  There is a record of one Boy who was still serving well into his 40s.

Brady, James

Press Secretary to Ronald Reagan who was shot during an attempted assassination of the President. He suffered severe brain trauma. A journalist and author. His name was given to a law that requires a waiting list for the purchase of handguns and he became an advocate of hand gun control. Served in the Corps during Korea.

Brain Bucket

Helmet of any type including combat Kevlar and aviation headgear.

Brain Fart

Discontinuity lost of concentration, a senior moment.

Brain Housing Group

The human head. Also melon or grape.




See Military Brat.


(Commtalk) B.

Bravo Zulu

Well done. From the Allied Naval Signal Book (ACP-175 Series) adopted after the formation of NAT


  An honor.  Prior to the creation of the Medal of Honor and the proliferation of medals during and after the Civil War, meritorious or heroic service was often recognized by brevet promotion.  The awardees were allowed to wear the insignia of the next higher rank and call himself by that advanced title but the pay and honors did not follow.  See Henderson, Archibald and General in Chief

  Brewer, Margaret

  As a colonel she served as the sixth and last Director of Women Marines from 1973 until 1977.  Later, while serving as Director of the Division of Information at Headquarters Marine Corps she became the first female Marine promoted to the rank of brigadier general.


The compartment aboard ship, usually in the superstructure, where the captain controls the ship by issuing orders. It is the ship's at sea headquarters.


A jail in the naval services usually operated by Marines. Also a small warship under sail during the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Brig Chaser

A Marine, now normally an MP, assigned to guard a prisoner while being transported to a location outside the brig, often for a work detail.

Brig Rat

A prisoner or someone who is frequently in trouble.

Brig Step

A regular step as in marching but the distance between the front of one prisoner and the back of the one in front is reduced to about four inches so that they must all step together. It is a common method of controlling prisoners while moving them from place to place. It is an illegal step for anyone other than a prisoner.


A rank in the Royal Marines equivalent to Brigadier General in the U. S. Marine Corps.

Brigadier General

First of the Flag Officer ranks of commiss ioned officers signified by a silver star on the collar of the uniform. The pay grade is O-7 and is the same in the Army and the Air Force. In the Navy and Coast Guard the rank is Read Admiral (lower half) and at some times the rank of Commodore has been used. The rank is additionally indicated on the sleeves of various uniforms by a two inch gold band topped by a one inch gold band and an insignia indicating the branch of the service to which the officer is assigned (most often a gold star indicating a line officer). Shoulder boards are mostly gold with a silver fouled anchor and one silver star.

Bronze Star

A personal decoration originally intended for valorous service. By the end of the 20th Century it was being given out for many non-combat acts, it even became known as the "officers' good conduct medal". The value of the award was deflated so much that a metal "V" device to be worn on the medal's suspension ribbon was issued to indicate valor--it succeeds only infrequently.  The Bronze Star medal can also be awarded for superior service.  After World War II it was given retroactively to every soldier who had been awarded the Combat Infantry Badge.

Brown Shoe Marine

An old salt. Until Secretary of Defense McNamara, under President Kennedy, forced all of the services to use the same shoes, Marines were issued brown shoes. In the early 1960s the shoe color changed to black but the old salts continued to wear their brown shoes as long as they could get away with it. The color of the dress shoe polish was actually "Cordovan" which was a dark brown with a red tint. In the Navy, any member of the aviation community is called Brown Shoe in reference to the aviator's brown flying boots.

Brown Shoe Navy

Naval officers assigned to aviation billets from World War II through Vietnam were authorized Aviation Greens in addition to their standard Navy blue uniform. The cut was very similar to Marine greens except that there was no belt. Rank insignia was in black and they wore a khaki shirt and black necktie. The shoes were lighter brown than the standard Marine Corps issue of the time and they wore tan socks. The Naval Aviator wings were gold embroidered and the fore and aft cap had small solid gold wings on the port side and rank insignia on the starboard.

Brown Side Out

(Vietnam Era) Helmet covers and shelter halves were green camo on one side and brown camo on the other. This was the instruction to place the brown camo on the outside. It was most often used to describe confusion in orders as the color would change frequently and ultimately someone would show up for formation in the wrong color.

Brown Water Navy.

Operations in rivers and other shallow water locations. See Shallow Water Sailor.


A person who carried lunch rather than eat at the mess hall (usually a Married Marine). Also a bar just outside the main gate to Camp Lejeune, NC.

Bucket of Steam

A commodity used in a practical joke by “salty” Marines who would send inexperienced comrades on a mission to find one as part of an informal initiation rite. Taken from a similar tactic among sailors.


Best friend. It is said that a real buddy is someone who will go into town when you are restricted to base and get himself two blow jobs, then come back to base and give one of them to you.

Buddy Unit

(Iraq) Two Marines, usually half a fire team. Emerging as the basic urban combat fighting unit. The tactical movement of a buddy team is for one Marine to lay down covering fire while the other Marine moves forward to a covered position only feet in front of the position being vacated. Then they change duties. This eliminates the "fireteam forward" movement and places the squad leader even further from the action. Some tacticians are calling for squad leaders to join the leading fire team as a third member and lead by example--his other fire teams following along a flank. When one member of a buddy unit is incapacitated he is left behind in forward movement and the other Marine joins a nearby buddy unit as a third member. The problem with this tactic is that it decentralizes the command structure requiring even the most junior Marine to make command decisions.

Bug Juice

Colored, sweetened water served on ship or in mess halls. Also a bug repellant used in Vietnam.

Bug Out

To leave quickly, usually as a unit. An individual would bug.


Wall, from the naval term for the water-tight structure between compartments on a ship.


The center or highest scoring part of a target often called a Bulls Eye.

Bull Run

The first major battle of the Civil War in which a battalion of inexperienced Marines from the Washington Navy Yard performed well beyond what should have been expected of them. With an average of 3 weeks since enlisting, the Marines were trained enroute to the battle by Major John G. Reynolds, the battalion commander, and his officers. They supported the 11th New York "Fire Zouaves" in the first attack during which the Zouaves broke and ran--never to be seen again on the battlefield-taking the Marines with them from the field. The Marines were rallied four times and entered the battle (a rate equal to the professional soldiers of the Federal Army) five times. On the fifth attack the field was swept by fresh Confederate troops (in blue uniforms) who had just been brought in by train from the Shenandoah Valley. General McDowell and his officers roundly praised the Marines for their skill and tenacity but Colonel Commandant John Harris, in his report to the Secretary of the Navy, wrote, "It is the first instance in history where any portion of its members turned their backs on the enemy." Ignoring fact, the Commandant attempted to hurt the career of Major Reynolds and established a lie in the annals of the Corps.


A card game played by groups of Marines while standing in line, usually aboard ship. A player will draw five cards from a shuffled deck and after reviewing the hand will announce the hand (it can be anything from "One Jack" to "Full Boat, Flush"). The next Marine in line will decide if the announced hand is what the player has and will either accept or proclaim "bullshit". If the hand is accepted the Marine can draw from one to five cards and announce the hand, but his hand must be better than the hand he accepted. This continues until someone calls "bullshit". There is no scoring as the game is usually played while standing up.

Bum Scoop

Bad information. Often information passed on by Bum Scoop Ned.


Often Bumfuck Egypt meaning in the middle of nowhere--very, very remote.


A covered and reinforced fighting hole.

Burrows, William Ward

Second Marine Commandant. Appointed a major under the authority of the Act of July 11, 1798 which established the Marine Corps he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel Commandant on May 1, 1800 under the authority of the Act of April 22, 1800. Among his many achievements is the formation of the United States Marine Band. He was born in South Carolina on Jan. 16, 1758 and died in office on March 6, 1804.

Bursting Bomb

An ancient insignia used in the Marine Corps to designate a warrant officer with the MOS that entitles him or her to be called "gunner" and on the enlisted grade insignia of master gunnery sergeant.


(Vietnam)Outside the perimeter wire. The boonies.

Bust Caps

A firefight. The actual firing of a weapon.

Bust Heavies

(Vietnam era)To work hard.


The pits on a rifle range.


A cigarette or a wooden cask or barrel in the wooden Navy.

Butt Kit

Ash tray. Often a #10 tin can filled with dirt or sand.

Butter Bar

Second lieutenant or ensign, from the gold color of their rank insignia. A pejorative term.

Buy The Farm


Buzzard, Ball and Hook

Another version of Bird, Ball and Chain.

By the Numbers

In sequence. From the beginning. Used to indicate that the action would have to be done precisely as directed.

By your leave...

A phrase spoken by a junior when overcoming a senior prior to passing. Also a request to be allowed to depart. Usually followed by "sir" or "ma'm". to another web site with more info. additional reading on this topic.


Custom Search


NAVIGATE THE DICTIONARY - Numbers ¦ A ¦ B ¦ C ¦ D ¦ E ¦ F ¦ G ¦ H ¦ I ¦ J ¦  K ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ Z
Home Page ¦ Dictionary Cover ¦ Marine Quotes 

© Glenn B. Knight, 2002-2011

Portions of this dictionary and its associated list of quotations may be quoted without further permission of the copyright holder so long as an appropriate citation is given. Citation should include "Unofficial Unabridged Dictionary for Marines" and the URL from which the quote is taken.

Please send additions, corrections, changes, modifications to
Send Complaints to anyone in the world but me, 'cause I don't really care. I'm doing the best I can with what I have and most folks seem to like it.

Semper Fi