United States Marine Corps History and Information

Learn about the Traditions and Customs of the USMC

Marine “Salty Talk” Nautical Language

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Marine Salty Talk, US Marines at Sea and Nautical Language?

1. Aft, Astern:  To the rear.
2. All Hands, Whole Lash Up:  everybody, the whole crew or unit
3. Aye Aye, Sir:  The proper response to orders in the naval service.
4. Belay:  Stop doing what you are doing.
5. Boot:  In the 1920’s and ’30’s Navy and Marine recruits wore leggings called
“boots” by the Navy.  Marines also wore leggings during boot camp.
6. Brig Time on P— and Punk:  In the brig on bread and water.
7. Captain’s Gig:  Small boat to ferry captain ashore.
8. Captain’s Mast:  On report for possible punishment.
9. Caulf Off:  To do nothing, loaf.  From the days when decks were caulked.
10. Chow Bump, Chow Call:  Musical notes indicating time to eat or “Chow Down”.
11. Doggy, Dogface:  U.S. Army type.
12. Fartsack:  Mattress cover on bunk.
13. Forward:  To the front.
14. Fouled Up:  Mixed up.
15. Gangway!:  Get out of the way.
16. Head:  Toilet, located originally at the head of the sailing ship.
17. Join The Fleet:  FMF or duty in the operating forces.
18. Jolly:  Royal Marine.
19. Knock It Off:  Stop doing that.
20. Knucklehead:  A dummy of junior rank.
21. Ladder:  Stairs.
22. Lay Up To The Headquarters:  Go to the front office.
23. Liberty Ashore:  Freedom to leave the ship or base to do things.
24. Liberty, Going Ashore:  To have fun, e.g.
25. Limey:  British sailor.
26. Marine Detachment, seagoing Duty:  On large men-o-war, e.g., carriers,
battleships, and cruisers.
27. Mate:  Friend, pal.
28. Officer Country:  Officers’ cabins and wardroom.
29. Old Man:  Battalion, Regimental, Division Commander.
30. Pogey Bait:  Name meaning “candy” that was supposedly awarded to the 6th
Marines by the 4th Marines when the 6th Marines arrived in Shanghai in the
1930’s with field marching packs full of candy (a myth).
31. Port:  Window.
32. Port Side:  Left side.
33. Rocks and Shoals:  Naval regulations used for adjudicating crimes and
misdemeanors.
34. Seagoing Bellhops, Jarheads, Leathernecks:  The Navy’s army, but better
shots than the “Dogface” army.
35. Secure:  Tighten up, lash up, tie up, or stop.
36. Ship Over for another Cruise:  To reenlist.
37. Shipmate:  Comrade, buddy.
38. Shove Off:  Move out, get going.
39. Skipper:  Company commander or ship commander.
40. Skivvies:  Underwear.
41. Squared Away:  Got his act together.
42. Starboard:  Right side.
43. Stowed:  Packed or loaded.
44. Swabby, Swab jockey:  Sailor.
45. Sweep Down, Fore and Aft:  Clean the decks from front to back.
46. Wardroom:  Where officers eat and relax.
47. Yard Bird:  A fouled-up Marine.

Did you ever wonder where the term “You cuss like a sailor” came from?

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