DFAC or chow hall? Different names for the same things across the services

Civilians talk about feeling lost when vets start using military lingo, but even vets can get lost when talking to members from other services. Here are 8 things that are common between the branches but with wildly different names:

1. DFAC, chow hall, or galley?

Military lingo Galley DFAC dining facility

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffry A. Willadsen

Basically, it’s the cafeteria. While the Army and Air Force both officially use the term DFAC, or dining facility, most soldiers and Marines refer to it as the “chow hall.” In the Navy, it’s the galley. All services employ “cooks” in the kitchen. In the Army, the soldiers tasked to help the cooks are KP, kitchen patrol. In the Navy, cooks are assisted by “cranks.”

2. Article 15, ninja punch, captain’s mast

Military lingo administrative punishment NJP nonjudicial punishment captain's mast ninja punch

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Dietrich

There are a lot of ways to get in trouble in the military, and the services have plenty of ways to describe it. While soldiers and airmen typically refer to Article 15s and nonjudicial punishment, Marines may call NJP a “ninja punch.” When Sailors get in big trouble, they can face captain’s mast, an Article 15 from the commander of the ship. Admiral’s mast is one step worse. Serious infractions can result in a “big chicken dinner,” slang for a bad conduct discharge.

3. Shammers, skaters and broke d*cks

Military lingo broke malingerer shammer skater

Photo: US Army Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi

When a sailor or Marine wants to get out of duty, they “skate” out of it. The Army equivalent is “shamming.” For all the services, shamming or skating by claiming medical issues can get you labeled as a “broke d*ck.”

4. Flak vest or body armor

Military lingo flak vest body armor

Photo: US Army

When someone is wearing all their armor and equipment, they’re in “full battle rattle.” For the Army, this means they’re wearing their body armor. While Marines are likely to be wearing the same armor, they’ll grab their “flak.” The flak vest, as seen in most Vietnam war movies, was the predecessor of modern body armor.

5. Deck vs. ground

Military lingo deck bridge ground

Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo

While the Army and the Air Force continue to use the normal words for ground and floor, the Navy and Marine Corps train their people to use the word “deck.” For pilots, the ground is the “hard deck,” something Top Gun apparently made a mistake translating.

6. Barracks mill, private news network, or the scuttlebutt

Military lingo private news network barracks mill scuttlebutt

Photo: US Army

Rumors. The Army has a bunch of privates living in the barracks where they swap rumors like a knitting circle. Hence, “barracks mill” and “private news network.” For the Navy, their sailors congregate around water fountains referred to as the scuttlebutt. Eventually, “scuttlebutt” became the word for the rumors themselves.

7. Head and latrine

Military lingo head latrine cat trench

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sailors and Marines visit the head, and soldiers hit the latrine.

8. Hooah vs. Oorah vs. Hooyah

Military lingo hooah motivational hooyah oorah

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone

The services can’t even agree on how to grunt. The Army says “Hooah,” when they want to motivate each other, or really to say anything besides, “no.” The Marines prefer “Oorah” while the Navy says “Hooyah.” (The Air Force has no equivalent.)

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