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 41 names in this directory beginning with the letter S.
Shit out of luck; often sanitized as "sure out of luck" or "soldier out of luck."
Saltwater Cowboy
Sandpaper the Anchor
To do unnecessary work.
Sea Dust
See the Chaplain
Stop grousing; resign yourself to an unpleasant situation. In other words;I don't care about your problem. Go tell someone who's paid to care.
Intoxicating beverages.
Shack Man
Married man.
Term applied to a pilot or other crew member who has quick and accurate responses to all requirements for his position
She’ll Be Right in a Fortnight or 18 Days
A delightful Aussie saying which meant, not to worry, things will be better in about a couple of weeks or so
'Girlfriend' or 'girl'
Shit for the birds
Nonsense, drivel, irrelevant matter. (A variant,‘That’s for the birds.’ It’s meaningless.)
Shit on a Shingle
Chipped or creamed beef on toast. Abbreviated as S.O.S.
Short Arm
Short Circuit Between the Ear Phones
Mental lapse.
Short Snorter
One or more bills of currency (usually starting with an American dollar bill) signed by two or more persons and dated. The Short Snorter usually inferred that the owner had crossed the Equator, but not necessarily so. It was loosely understood that if an air crew member offered to exchange signatures, and the other could not produce a Short Snorter, then he had to buy the drinks at the nearest bar. Short Snorters were a great way to get acquainted. As different kinds of currency were acquired in one's travels, it was not unusual for two members of the great flying fraternity to swap examples, whereupon the new bills would be glued to the end of an ever-growing Short Snorter
Sleeping pills.
Side Arms
Cream and sugar for coffee.
Sin Buster
Six-and-Twenty Tootsie
A girl who makes a flying cadet so heedless of time that he returns late from weekend leave;thereby incurring six demerits and twenty punishment tours.
A reprimand, oral or written, for a flagrant violation of Army rules. Presumably from ‘skin ‘im alive.’
Sky Scout
Situation normal;all fouled (or fucked) up.
Snap your cap
Become excited, flustered.
Snore Sack
Sleeping Bag.
Son of Mars
A soldier.
Soul Aviator
Clouds;rain;and most of all;fog.
Spud Duty
Kitchen police (K.P.) assignment (i.e: peeling potatoes).
Spuds with the Bark On
Unpeeled potatoes.
Stand down, to
To not fly a particular day, mission, etc...
Poor in quality; low grade.
A soldier too eager for promotion.
Sugar Report
A letter from a girl.
Suicide Squad
Those who operate a machine gun under fire.
Superman Drawers
Woolen underwear.
Superman Suit
Long;one-piece government-issue underwear.
Used in combination with other words, such as: “No Sweat!”, or “Lot’sa Sweat!” This was a very descriptive term meaning exactly what it said. It originated in 1939 or the early 1940’s in the many flight training school s that grew up at that time. The flight training was notoriously tough, and the students were worked by their training instructors almost to the breaking point. In West Texas, California, and other places where the flight training schools were clustered, the airplane cockpit, coupled with the hard-driving instructor, kept the student in a real state of sweat. The students flight clothes, socks and shoes, together with his seat pack parachute could very well become soaking wet with sweat at the end of a brisk period of instruction. When the student would finally get to the showers in the barracks, and a buddy would ask how it went, the student would just as likely say, “S---, that was a no-sweat flight!” Then, his buddy would look at the dried-up salt residue on this guy’s flight suit, and he would know he was hearing that it had really been a tough day, but his friend believed he had survived to fly another day!
Sweat Something Out
Wait a long time for something.

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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