Military slang is an array of colloquial terminology used commonly by US military personnel, including slang which is unique to or originates with the armed forces. It often takes the form of abbreviations/acronyms or derivations of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, or otherwise incorporates aspects of formal military concepts and terms. Military slang is often used to reinforce or reflect (usually friendly and humorous) interservice rivalries.
SNAFU stands for the sarcastic expression situation normal: all fucked up. It is a well-known example of military acronym slang. It is sometimes bowdlerized to all fouled up or similar. It means that the situation is bad, but that this is a normal state of affairs. It is typically used in a joking manner to describe something that's working as intended.
The acronym is believed to have originated in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. Attribution to the American military is not universally accepted: it has also been attributed to the British,. Most reference works, including the Random House Unabridged Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary, supply an origin date of 1940-1944, generally attributing it to the US military.Time magazine used the term in their June 16, 1942 issue: "Last week U.S. citizens knew that gasoline rationing and rubber requisitioning were snafu." Frederick Elkin noted in 1946 that there "are a few acceptable substitutes such as 'screw up' or 'mess up,' but these do not have the emphasis value of the obscene equivalent." He considered the expression SNAFU to be "a caricature of Army direction. The soldier resignedly accepts his own less responsible position and expresses his cynicism at the inefficiency of Army authority." He also noted that "the expression ... is coming into general civilian use."
In modern usage, snafu is sometimes used as an interjection, though it is mostly now used as a noun. Snafu also sometimes refers to a bad situation, mistake, or cause of trouble. It is more commonly used in modern vernacular to describe running into an error or problem that is large and unexpected. For example, in 2005, The New York Times published an article titled "Hospital Staff Cutback Blamed for Test Result Snafu".
FUBAR stands for fucked up beyond all recognition/repair/reason, like SNAFU and SUSFU, dates from World War II. The Oxford English Dictionary lists Yank, the Army Weekly magazine (1944, 7 Jan. p. 8) as its earliest citation: "The FUBAR squadron. ‥ FUBAR? It means 'Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition." NFG is equipment that is not functional, but may or may not be repairable, FUBAR is beyond repair.
TARFU stands for totally and royally fucked up or things are really fucked up. The 1944 U.S. Army animated shorts Three Brothers and Private Snafu Presents Seaman Tarfu In The Navy (both directed by Friz Freleng), feature the characters Private Snafu, Private Fubar, and Seaman Tarfu.
BOHICA stands for bend over, here it comes again. It is an item of acronym slang which grew to regular use amongst the United States armed forces during the Vietnam War. It is used colloquially to indicate that an adverse situation is about to repeat itself, and that acquiescence is the wisest course of action. It is commonly understood as a reference to being sodomized. An alternative etymology relates the expression to the days of sail and avoiding being struck by the boom, which would swing around the mast due to shifts in wind or the vessel's course. Although it originated in the United States military forces, and is still commonly used by United States Air Force fighter crew chiefs and armament crews, its usage has spread to civilian environments, used to describe unavoidable, unpleasant situations that have inconvenienced someone before and are about to yet again.
- List of government and military acronyms
- List of U.S. government and military acronyms
- Grande Armée slang (French Army slang during the Napoleonic Wars)
- Atkinson, Rick (2007). The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. The Liberation Trilogy. Henry Holt. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8050-6289-2.
- Neary, Lynn. "Fifty Years of 'The Cat in the Hat'". NPR. Retrieved 2008-01-08. "'Situation Normal All . . . All Fouled Up,' as the first SNAFU animated cartoon put it"
- Rawson, Hugh (1995). Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk: Being a Compilation of Linguistic Fig Leaves and Verbal Flourishes for Artful Users of the English Language. New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0-517-70201-7.
- Burchfield, R.W., ed. (1986). A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. Volume IV Se-Z. Oxford: Clarendon. ISBN 978-0-19-861115-8.
- Elkin, Frederick (March 1946), "The Soldier's Language", American Journal of Sociology (The University of Chicago Press) 51 (5 Human Behavior in Military Society): 414–422, JSTOR 2771105
- Santora, Marc (May 19, 2005). "Hospital Staff Cutback Blamed for Test Result Snafu". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- "fubar, adj.". Oxford English Dictionary (third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Pres. 2005.
- "Private Snafu - Three Brothers (1944)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- Pietro Shakarian. "Situation Normal All Fucked Up:A History of Private Snafu". goldenagecartoons.com. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Crawford, Samuel C. (2005). "Glossary". Brownwater III. Xlibris Corporation. p. 419. ISBN 978-1-59926-451-6. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Elvin, Mike (2006). Financial Risk Taking: An Introduction to the Psychology of Trading and Behavioural Finance. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-02072-2. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
- Military Brats Are a Special Breed
- Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
- Jacobson, Gary (August 14, 1994). "Humor best way to remove last of 'Bohicans' resistance". The Dallas Morning News. p. 7H. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
- Stromberg, Rich (May 10, 2005). "Grab your ankles and say BOHICA". UWIRE. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
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- Glossary of Military Terms & Slang from the Vietnam War
- Military Terms of the Modern Era
- The dictionary definition of Appendix:Australian English military slang at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of Appendix:Canadian military slang at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of Appendix:U.S. Navy slang at Wiktionary