By the Letter, Here's a Glossary of Common Military Acronyms

FacebookTwitterPinterestEmailShare
MREs are Meals Ready to Eat.
One of the most common military acronyms is MRE, for Meal Ready to Eat. (Staff Sgt. Sean Campbell/U.S. Air Force)

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, service members are immersed in a linguistic world apart from the daily life of a civilian. Acronyms are used commonly 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 service members in need of corrective lenses. Generally considered exceptionally unattractive.

BFE -- Bum **** Egypt, or Big ****ing Empty. Derogatory term for a place that's very remote and tough to inhabit.

BFH -- Big ****ing Hammer. 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 Again. 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 that can house between two and eight service members. 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 that can contain 40-150 service members and is placed usually in hostile locations.

CSMO -- Close Station, March Order or Collect your **** and Move Out. Both are intended to get service members to close their stations and move out because a mission ended.

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 that 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 service members 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 back seat. 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 service member.

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 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.

NFG -- Non-Functioning 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 song "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 toward 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. Usually well-protected, the TOC 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.

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

Show Full Article
Join the Military