Previous Military Terminology

Writer, Peter B. Kyne makes point out in his e-book, Troopers, Sailors and Canines, New York: H.C. Kinsey & Co., 1936 of what seems to be numerous expressions that most likely originated throughout the Spanish/American Conflict and which could have survived till the early a part of American involvement in World Conflict I. Kyne evidently had some navy expertise or data thereof. In his e-book, a few of the fictional tales happen in America and in France throughout the World Conflict. Kyne makes use of such expressions as:

“Bluebird”-evidently a reference to somebody who left the service for a time frame after which re-enlisted within the military. The connotation could possibly be made right here with the homing intuition of a bluebird, which returns to the identical nest yr after yr. Lighter makes no point out of this time period.

“Bob” -a dishonorable discharge from the service. To obtain a “bob” or to be “bobbed” was to get a dishonorable discharge. “Bobtail” is the Indian Wars slang for a dishonorable discharge. “His bobtail’s coming again by mail, O’Reilly’s gone to hell.”

In Paul Dickson’s e-book, Conflict Slang…we learn: “bobtailed. Dishonorably discharged; from the observe of eradicating (“bobbing”) the portion of discharge papers that confers honor. Dickson, Paul. Conflict Slang…Pocket Books, 1994, web page 44. Additionally the act of slicing off the discharge beneath the character part denoted “no character.” Rickey, Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay.

Elting’s “A Dictionary of Soldier Discuss” options the definition “bobtailed discharge-bobtail (Previous, Previous Military). A discharge from the service underneath lower than honorable circumstances. Not a dishonorable discharge, however the subsequent factor to it. The time period got here from the observe of clipping off the ultimate part of the discharge kind, which lined the dischargee’s character. In World Conflict II known as a ‘discharge with out honor.’

In his article “Slang of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, 1917-1919 (American Speech, 1972) Joathan Lighter identifies:

–bobtail as dishonorable discharge, an expression courting again to the U.S. Military of the late 19th century.

Paul Dickson’s “Conflict Slang” has “bobtail hotel-an military disciplinary barracks.”

“Soldier as much as the deal with” was to be an exemplary soldier. To “the deal with” of what?

“Fogie”-a service stripe. Lighter makes no point out of this time period.

Elting additionally has “fogy, fogey, fogie (All Companies). A phrase whose origin and historical past would most likely be very attention-grabbing, if exactly recognized. The earliest kind, which is civilian and from the center of the 18th century, is “fogram,” which means a superannuated individual, an previous fuddyduddy. 1. (Late 18th and early 19th Centuries, British and American). An previous or invalided soldier; therefore, a garrison soldier. 2. (19th Century, with some survivals; USA) Longevity pay, improve of pay for size of service. “I get one other fogy subsequent month, however my spouse’s already spending it.” Additionally known as fogey pay, fogy pa. Each fogy and fogy pay (with variants) at the moment are turning into out of date.

Dickson’s “Conflict Slang” gives the same, a lot shorter, definition irrespective of date or the background. Lighter says that Fogy or fogey was a long life bonus paid to officers and NCO’s courting again to the Civil Conflict; from “previous fogey.”

Within the late 1960’s a “fogie” was an incremental step in your pay on account of longevity. It could be that it’s the outgrowth of the service stripe since service stripes had been awarded for longevity.

One correspondent despatched in that proven fact that his father was within the U.S. Military from 1910 to 1940 and that in that time frame the military slang for a “free lady” was “biscuit shooter.” Nothing is thought of the origin of this expression.

Are these all Spanish-American warfare military expressions and did any of them survive till World Conflict I? Though creator Kyne makes use of these expressions within the context of Spanish-American Conflict veterans serving within the U.S. Military throughout World Conflict I, I’ve by no means seen these phrases utilized in some other American World Conflict I writings.


Dickson, Paul. Conflict Slang. NY: Pocket Books, 1994

Elting, A Dictionary of Soldier Discuss.

Kyne, Peter B. SOLDIERS, SAILORS and DOGS. NY: H. C. Kinsey & Co., 1936.

Lighter, Jonathan. “Slang of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, 1917-1919. American Speech, 1972.

Supply by David Homsher

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