If you have a favorite military acronym or see a problem with our definitions, let us know in the comments below.
The U.S. military uses many unique items and concepts that civilians aren't exposed to. Because of this and the need for expedient, clear communication, servicemembers are immersed in a linguistic world apart from the daily life of a civilian. Acronyms are commonly used to make big concepts easy to communicate, and there's a good chance you haven't heard of at least a few.
Be sure to check out Military.com's Glossary of Military Terms and Slang.
If you want to know more about the military alphabet, check out our complete guide.
AFI – Air Force Instruction. Also stands for Another ****ing Inconvenience.
BCD – Bad Conduct Discharge. Usually spoken as Big Chicken Dinner.
BCGs – Birth Control Glasses. Large, black plastic framed glasses issued to servicemembers in need of corrective lenses. Generally considered exceptionally unnatractive.
BFE – Bum **** Egypt, or Big ****ing Empty. Derogatory term for a place that’s very remote and tough to inhabit.
BFH – Big ****ing Hamnmer. Acronym referring to a difficult, mechanical job.
BFO – Blinding Flash of the Obvious.
BFW – Big ****ing Wrench. Refers to the wrench used to tighten the grounding nut on generators.
BLOB – Big Lump On Board. Used in aircraft to describe passengers without a clear function
BOHICA – Bend Over, Here it Comes. Recommended by user RichardCranium69.
BUFF – Big Ugly Fat ****er. Specifically refers to the B-52 Stratofortress. The Stratofortress is famously large, and capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds of munitions.
BZ – Bravo Zulu. Shorthand for "great job!" Correction suggested by user 26374950.
CFB – Clear as a ****ing Bell.
CHT – Collection, Holding, and Transfer. Pronounced "chit," refers to sewage on a Navy ship.
CHU – Containerized Housing Unit. These are climate-controlled trailers which can house between 2 and 8 servicemembers. They can be connected to form a larger complex, may contain a bathroom, and are unarmored.
CK – Containerized Kitchen. Used for preparing food while in the field.
CM – Continue Mission. Recommended by user 12B30.
CMC – Command Master Chief in the Navy or Coast Guard. Recommended by 16708541.
CMC – Commandant of the Marine Corps. Recommended by user SMBerkowitz.
COB – Chief of the Boat. The senior chief petty officer on board a ship.
COP – Combat Outpost. A small base which can contain between 40 and 150 servicemembers and is usually placed in hostile locations.
CSMO – Close Station, March Order or Collect your **** and Move Out. Both are intend to get service members to close their stations and move out due to a mission ending.
DART – Dumb Ass Radio/Radar Troop.
DAT – Dumb Ass Tanker. An Army acronym.
DFAC – Dining Facility.
DILLIGAF – Does it Look Like I Give a ****. Recommended by user Michael Wood, SFC (Ret).
DONSA – Day of no scheduled activity. A U.S. Army acronym.
ENDEX – End Exercise. Used by the U.S. Army.
EOD – Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
FAN – Feet, Ass, and Nuts. A common acronym which describes the smell of a barracks.
FAN – Forward Air Navigator. Recommended by user Art Covello.
FIDO – Forget/**** it, Drive On. Recommended by user Michael.
FIGJAM – **** I'm Good, Just Ask Me. Originally coined by Australians in the Vietnam war, borrowed by American forces.
FISH – Fighting In someone's House. Acronym describing urban warfare.
FM – ****ing Magic. Describes the phenomenon of a dysfunctional electronic device starting to work again.
FNG – ****ing New Guy. A ubiquitous acronym for new members of a group.
FOB – Forward Operating Base. A base that is larger than a COP, but smaller than a superbase. They tend to be located in less dangerous areas than a COP, and offer luxuries such as varied meals and hot water.
FTA – In the U.S. Army: **** the Army. Usually written, and if asked about the meaning the proper response is Fun, Travel, and Adventure or Finest Training Available.
FTA – In the U.S.M.C.: Failure to Adapt. A reason why recruits may fail out of basic.
FTN – **** the Navy. Commonly used as graffiti in hard to find places as a type of game. While there are no clear objectives, the result of upsetting officers constitutes a type of victory.
FUBAR – *****ed up Beyond All Recognition. Recommended by user 27310865.
FUBIS – **** You Buddy, I’m shipping. Used by servicemembers during the Vietnam war when they didn’t have much time before shipping.
FUNGUS – **** You, New Guy, U Suck. Traditionally used in the Navy for new shipmates.
GIB – Guy In Back. Refers to an aviator riding in the backseat. Recommended by user 3437826.
GOBI – General Officer Bright Idea.
GTFO – Get The **** Out.
HANO – High Altitude, No Opening. Refers to a parachute jump where the parachute fails to deploy. This is usually a fatal situation.
HIC – Head in Clouds/Concrete. Used to describe officers who insist on ineffective courses of action.
HMFIC – Head Mother ****er in Charge. Recommended by user Michael.
HUA – Head Up Ass or Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.
IBM – Instant Boatswain's Mate. A sailor who has failed specialty school, and is an undesignated servicemember.
IBS – Inflatable Boat, Small. Typically used by landing parties requiring stealth, such as Navy SEALs.
IED – Improvised Explosive Device. A nearly ubiquitous method of attack in the Middle East. IEDs are hidden in extremely varied ways.
IDF – Indirect Fire. Any munitions delivered on a high-arcing trajectory such as mortars, rockets, and artillery. Usually used to describe enemy fire.
IFR – I ****ing Refuse. A means of emphatically displaying a lack of compliance. Generally considered impolite.
IYAAYAS – IF You Ain’t Ammo, You Ain’t ****.
JN – Japanese National. Used to refer to any Japanese citizen.
JO – Junior Officer. Usually reserved for insufferable junior officers.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Recommended by user David Snider.
LBJ – Long Binh Jail. A U.S. stockade built in Long Binh which is located in Vietnam. Recommended by user Tom.
LHO – Large Heavy Object.
LN – Local National. Army term for friendly locals.
LZ – Landing Zone.
MARINE – Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Expected/Essential. A derogatory acronym coined by the Navy. May also stand for Marines Always Ride In Navy Equipment.
MCPON – (Pronounced "mick-pawn.") Term for a Master Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy. Correction suggested by user 16708541.
MCRD – Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
MRE – Meal Ready to Eat. A 3,600 calorie meal packaged in a wrapper. Universally despised.
NAVY – Never Again Volunteer Yourself.
NEACP – National Emergency Airborne Command Post. Pronounced "kneecap." Boeing E-4 designed to serve as a mobile command post for the president and staff in case of nuclear war. The plane itself is set to be decommissioned in 2015.
NFG –NonFunctioning Gear. Label used on broken equipment in the Navy and Air Force. Can also mean No ****ing Good.
NFO – Naval Flight Officer. A weapons officer responsible for discharging weapons during flights, as opposed to the pilot who flies the vehicle.
PFA – Pretty Freakin' Awesome. A term coined by the band Willy Pete in the sont "PFA."
PFM – Pure ****ing Magic. Usually used by Airmen and Marines when explaining something the asker might not understand.
PLF – Parachute Landing Fall.
PMCS – Park the Mother and Call the Shop. Modified from the original meaning, Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services.
PMS – Preventative Maintenance Scheduled. Alternatively can mean Pure Meaningless ****. Recommended by user Jeff Blauch Sr.
POG – Person Other than Grunt. Carries a derogatory connotation. Recommended by user 30807389.
POL – Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants. An Army acronym to refer to gas, diesel, and other types of fuel.
POV – Privately Owned Vehicle.
RCPO – Recruit Chief Petty Officer. Pronounced "are-pock." Not inherently derogatory, but may be used in a dismissive way.
REMF – Rear Echelon Mother ****er. Recommended by user 24893093.
ROAD – Retired On Active Duty. Generally refers to any service member who is lazy and ineffective, typically those weeks or months away from leaving the military.
RTB – Return to Base. Recommended by user 12B30.
RFTM – Read the ****ing Manual. Usually an aggravated response to someone asking a precise, complex technical question.
SA – Situational Awareness.
SECAF – Secretary of the Air Force.
SECARMY – Secretary of the Army.
SECC – Survivable Enduring Command Center.
SECCLEAR – Security Clearance (Management System).
SECDEF – Secretary of Defense.
SECNAV – Secretary of the Navy.
SERE – Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.
SNAFU – Situation Normal All ****ed up.
SOCOM– Special Operations Command.
SOS – **** On a Shingle and Same Old ****. Both derived from the Morse code signal for distress. **** on a shingle refers to chipped beef on toast, while the latter definition is self-explanatory.
SP – Start Point. A U.S. Army term.
STUMP – Stupid Tankers Under Mortar Protection. Typically used by infantryman in a derogatory manner towards personnel in armored units.
SUC – Small Unit Coward. Imagined MOS for individuals deemed cowardly or unfit for duty.
SWAG – Scientific/Swinging Wild Ass Guess. Recommended by user rickparker.
TACAMO – Take Charge And Move Out. Also used by the Pentagon as designation for aircraft integral to the U.S. nuclear warfare program.
TARFU – Things Are Really ****ed Up. Or Things Are Royally ****ed Up.Recommended by user MacInMo.
THS – The Hooah Syndrome. An Army term for when a platoon leader or noncommissioned officer holds everyone to extreme technical standards.
Tocroach – Tactical Operations Center roach. The TOC is usually well protected and is a place of work for command and operational staff. Tocroach, subsequently, is a derogatory term.
TS – Top Secret. Recommended by user Chris Wagner.
USMC – Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children. Derogatory appropriation of the acronym signifying United States Marine Corps. Recommended by user Albert Milburn.
WAG – Wild-Ass Guess.
WETSU – We Eat This **** Up. Commonly used by those performing grueling labor. Recommended by user rickparker.
WTF – Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Military alphabet code for what the ****.
WTFO – What the ****, over? A question implying sharp disbelief. A common response is, "What the ****, out."
XO – eXecutive Officer. Recommended by user MacInMo.
YGFBKM – You Gotta ****in' Be Kidding Me.
Learn More About Military Life
Stay on top of the latest military, and get more insights about joining the military, and the benefits you can earn. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to receive updates on the topics you're interested in.