World War 2 American Slang: A Collection

World War II created a brotherhood, and a language all its own. Men from a wide variety of backgrounds were thrown together in close-knit, often boring, frequently dangerous situations, and slang that came from those experiences tied them together and cemented their brotherhood.

WW2 slang helped create an “us” vs. “them” mentality, where them is not only the enemy, but the “Brass” and folks back home who can’t fully understand the world of the fighting man.


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There are currently 10 names in this directory beginning with the letter H.
Had It
That is, "I’ve had it", "he's had it", and so on. In some cases it inferred a disastrous ending
Ham That Didn't Pass Its Physical.
Spam; the ubiquitous canned meat which was served to soldiers up to 2-3 times per day.
Hangar Queen
An aircraft with an unenviably bad maintenance record. An aircraft spending a great deal of time being repaired or maintained.
Hangar Warrior.
An airplane mechanic who boasts about what he would do if he were a pilot.
Used to describe a piece of equipment that was not behaving itself; or an event that took a bad turn. Derived from the use of haywire (baling wire) to make farm repairs.
Head Up and Locked
A term applied to a person reacting stupidly to an emergency. (“He had his head locked up his a--”)
Head Up his a--
same as above
Hot Pilot
Self explanatory
An exclamation of approbation; thrill; or enthusiasm by a man for a woman.

WW2 Slang Sources:

“Glossary of Army Slang,” American Speech, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Oct., 1941).
“G.I. Lingo,” American Speech, Vol. 20. No. 2 (Apr. 1945)
War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases Since the Civil War By Paul Dickson
FUBAR: Soldier Slang of WWII By Gordon L. Rottman

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