BOOT and Other Military Slang You Didn’t Know Were Acronyms

August 11, 2023Mac Caltrider

Staff Sgt. Maurice Jones, a USMC DI, encourages his recruits to push themselves through an incentive training session on MCRD Parris Island, May 15, 2015. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Schubert.

The United States military’s obsession with acronyms borders on absurdity. From FUBAR to FNG to SNAFU, the list of terms and phrases that troops have managed to distill down to one or two syllables is long enough to fill a dictionary. Of course, some military acronyms are more widely used than others. Every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine is fluent in the basics, like SITREP and OPSEC.

But there are also plenty of acronyms that may be indecipherable to the average Joe, whether because they are exclusively used within a certain branch or job field, or because they are relics of a bygone war. Here are some good examples.

MCRD Parris Island

Marines attending the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival Course on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, endure various events together during the five-week training course before graduating June 25, 2021. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley.


Kicking off this list with an OIF favorite. If you’ve ever heard an Iraq War veteran slip “AWR” into a sentence, they’re talking about Allah’s Waiting Room. Like many acronyms grunts come up with in the field, AWR is politically incorrect, as it’s meant to be demeaning to the enemy. Specifically, it describes a situation in which a group of insurgents — presumably Muslim insurgents — have congregated in the same building, making them a ripe target for an airstrike.


Another term you shouldn’t use in the wrong company. BOHICA means Bend Over, Here It Comes Again. BOHICA is typically used when troops foresee themselves getting pulled for a shit detail. A young artilleryman might say, for example, “Guess we better BOHICA, they need five privates to go clean the shitters.”


US Army 2nd Lt. Nicholas Beavers, assigned to 87th Sapper Company, places concertina wire at the border near Douglas, Arizona, Nov. 15, 2018. Sometimes even officers get stuck with shit details. US Army photo by Spc. Jennifer LeonRodriguez.


US air crews know all about the BLOB. A BLOB — which stands for Big Lump On Board — is the useless bum taking up space on their aircraft. Think of a general’s aide, probably a major, who does little more than watch YouTube, yap about Alabama football, and get in the way of the crew chiefs. That’s a BLOB.


Navy ships are full of FUNGUS. The sophisticated nautical acronym means F*ck You New Guy, You Suck, and it’s what sailors often get called before they’ve earned their stripes. We hear it’s a term of endearment. 


An “elephant walk” of B-52 BUFFs. The B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions and has been the backbone of US strategic bomber forces for more than 60 years. US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tessa B. Corrick.


BUFF is an acronym troops often use to refer to the B-52 Stratofortress. It means Big Ugly Fat F*ck. Sometimes BUFF can refer to more than just the big bomber. For example, calling a soldier who is spilling out of their PT uniform “BUFF” is a good way to disguise an insult as a compliment. “Hey sarge, have you been hitting the gym? Because you’re looking BUFF these days.”


This could be an acronym for Forward Air Navigator, but it’s not. Its actual meaning is a little more … colorful. FAN stands for Feet, Ass, and Nuts. It’s usually used to describe how something smells. For example, after a few months into a deployment, a platoon of grunts might find that their tent reeks of FAN. 

USS Farragut

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Christopher Britt swabs the deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99). US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup.


Fighting In Someone's House. For example, American veterans who fought in the battles of Fallujah and Ramadi might say, “There were way more FISH in Iraq than we’d expected.” In the Navy, the word “fish” is also slang for a torpedo.


Most leathernecks probably think BOOT is just a derogatory term for a new Marine that is meant to remind them that they’re hardly more important than a shower shoe. But BOOT is actually an acronym, and it stands for: Barely Out Of Training. Who knew?

Read Next: 8 Great Nonprofits, According to Wounded Spec Ops Veteran Clint Trial

Mac Caltrider
Mac Caltrider

Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.

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