World War One Phrases & Terms
 
Archie = anti-aircraft fire (British)
Banjo = spade or entrenching tool (Australian)
Belly flopping = to hit the ground quickly during attack (British)
Big Bertha = German 420mm howitzer, named for a family member of the Krupp Arms manufacturer.  Now a name for a golf club.
Black Hand Gang = raiding party or a selected group engaged in some desparate enterprise
Boyau (literally “gut” in French) or Boy-oh (British) = communication trench
Brass hats = enlisted men’s term for officers
Coal box = shell burst, generally from a heavy gun, causing a cloud of black smoke
Dogfight = aerial combat
Duckboard Trail = as in “someone hit the duckboard trail” = killed in action (U.S.)
Duckboards = slatted wooden planks placed in the bottom of trenches or on muddy ground, hopefully keeping one out of the water
Fiche blanche = white ticket or non-movable casualty (French);
Fiche rouge = red ticket or movable casualty (French)
Frog’s Paradise = Paris (U.S.)
Furfie = rumor (Australian)
Gasper = cheap cigarette
“Gives the willies” = be frightened, or shell shocked
Go West = used when referring to a comrade who had died
Gulasch-Kanone = “stew gun” or German wheeled field kitchen vehicle (German)
Hayburners = army horses and mules (U.S.)
Holy Joe/Skyscout = chaplain (U.S.)
Kamerad Schnurschuh = “pal with laced boots;” German nickname for Austro-Hungarian troops
Kilometerschwein = “kilometer pig;” German infantryman (German)
Lakenpatscher = “puddle splasher;” German infantryman (German)
Land Crabs = tanks (British)
Looey or Louis = Second Lieutenant (U.S.)
Monkey meat = canned beef and carrot mixture ration from South America (U.S.)
Mothers = 5.7 inch British guns (British)
Over the Top = to attack, generally from the trenches; “In the Trenches”
Poilu = “hairy one;” French infantryman
Pozzy = ration issue jam (British)
Roughneck = artilleryman (U.S.)
Slum or slumgum = a stew of meat, potatos, onions and tomatos (U.S.)
Suicide Ditch = front line trench (British)
Synchronize Watches
Tommy = British infantryman, from “Tommy Atkins,” a fictional name used in instructions for filling out British military forms
Wives = 9 inch British guns (British)
Woofs = German 4.7 inch high explosive and shrapnel shells (British)

 

WWI Slang

 

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