RAF slang

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The Royal Air Force developed a distinctive slang which has been documented in works such as Piece of Cake and the Dictionary of R.A.F slang.[1]

The following is a list of terms used by the RAF.

A[edit]

  • Ablutions - Area in barrack-room airmen go to for washing and/or using toilet
  • AC Plonk - Aircraftman second class (AC2), the lowest rank in the RAF (also known simply as Plonk)
  • Air Commode - Air Commodore, lowest ranking of Their Airships (also known as Air Toilet)
  • Air Toilet - Air Commodore (also known as Air Commode)
  • Air Tragic - Air Traffic (also known as The Tower)
  • Airships, Their - officers of Air Commodore rank and above. Float serenely at high altitude, buffeted by assorted winds and oblivious to the implications of, and confusion caused by, the edicts following their astral deliberations
  • Angels - Altitude, given in thousands of feet (thus "Angels 13" is 13,000 feet)
  • Anvil - the sound-proofed, darkened box that Scopies sit in, staring at a screen that looks like it’s playing a Sinclair ZX81 game, apparently to warn of any incoming Bogies
  • Arse End Charlies - rear gunners (also known as Tail End Charlies)

B[edit]

  • Bag Up - to bag up or chuck up. From sick bags. E.g. “I bagged up, I tell you I was blowing chunks all over the place on the Timmy”
  • Banana-boat - aircraft carrier
  • Bandit - enemy aircraft
  • Bang On - to be correct, or a direct hit
  • Bang Out - the action taken by a jockey when his jet goes tits up and he has to eject
  • Basher - man, chap, fellow in a particular trade e.g. "stores basher"
  • Beer Lever - joystick
  • Best blues - No 1 Uniform
  • Bind - not a nice job
  • Binder - someone complaining
  • Binding - complaining
  • Black-outs - knickers worn by the WAAF, navy-blue winter-weights
  • Blighty - the United Kingdom
  • Body Snatcher - stretcher bearer
  • Boomerang - aircraft returned early due to snag (RAF Bomber Command)
  • Brassed Off - unhappy (in the extreme)
  • Brass hats - commanding officers
  • Brown Jobs - the Army (also "pongos" and "squaddies")
  • Bull Night - night men have to clean/polish up their accommodation
  • Bumper - implement with broomstick handle men must use in accommodation to make floor glisten prior to Inspection
  • Bumph - useless paperwork
  • Burton - "Gone for a Burton" - killed in action (from an old beer commercial for Burton Ale)
  • Bus - an aircraft

C[edit]

  • Canteen Cowboy - ladies' man
  • CC - Confined to Camp (official title for Jankers; renamed "Restrictions" from 1955)
  • Chiefie - Flight Sergeant in charge of a unit (Flight Sergeant(FS) is incorrect. Chiefie is a Chief Technician, a technical rank between Sergeant and FS)
  • Circuits and bumps - a pilot training exercise in landing an aircraft and immediately taking off again (Equivalent to the American term "touch and go")
  • Civvy street - what you did before or after you were in the RAF
  • Clanger - embarrassing mistake
  • Clobber - gear, equipment
  • Clapped Out - nearing the end of useful life
  • Clot - idiot or fool
  • Cockup - a situation that has become extremely disorganized (from "cocked hat" or a typed text being in the wrong case)

D[edit]

  • Deck - the ground
  • Desert Lily - urinal made from a tin can
  • Dim view, to take a - to view with skepticism or disapproval
  • Ditch - to perform a landing in the "drink" - usually when one's aircraft was unable to fly any more
  • Dobhi - one's laundry
  • Drink - an ocean, sea, river or lake
  • Drop a clanger - make a mistake
  • Duff - bad or not accurate, as in "duff gen" (inaccurate intelligence or incorrect information)

E[edit]

  • Erk - ground crew or an airman below rank of Corporal

F[edit]

  • Fairies - Personnel in Signals Intelligence e.g. Wireless Operators(A)(Also Electricians and Instrument Techs etc. as opposed to Heavies - Engines and Airframe trades)
  • Fatigues - tedious work airmen have to do, which not part of trade skills
  • Finger (to remove one's) - to hurry up or pay attention
  • Fish Heads - the Royal Navy
  • Fizzer - disciplinary charge
  • Flaming Onions - anti-aircraft tracer
  • Flannel - to avoid the truth
  • Flap - a chaotic event
  • Fruit Salad - medal ribbons on a uniform

G[edit]

  • Gardening - sowing mines in water from a low height
  • Gippy Tummy - gastroenteritis
  • Goolie Chit - a scrap of cloth issued when flying over hostile territory, which a downed aircrew would offer as a reward to the natives to return them to the nearest Allied unit unharmed
  • Gong - a service medal
  • Gonk - sleep
  • Gremlin - a mythical creature that lived on certain aircraft and caused mechanical failures at the most inconvenient times and then could not be located as the source of the problem
  • Ground Wallah - an officer who did not fly
  • Groupie - Group Captain
  • Gubbins - equipment
  • Good Man- welldone
  • Golly it's a wizzard fire - Goodness its an incredible fire

H[edit]

  • Hang up - Bomb failed to release
  • Heavies - Generally Engines and Airframe trades
  • Hun' - Nickname given to German

I[edit]

  • Irons - Knife, Fork and Spoon

J[edit]

  • Jankers - punishment after being put on a charge for a service violation
  • Jippo - a gravy or stew also called Jollop
  • Jollop - Any sticky mess

K[edit]

  • Kite - an aircraft
  • KFS - Knife Fork and Spoon, also known as "irons" in Halton Aircraft Apprentice Speak pre-WWII
  • KRS - King's Regulations, the rules and regulations governing the Royal Air Force

L[edit]

  • LMF - lack of moral fibre

M[edit]

  • Mahogany Spitfire - desk "flown" by Penguins and Ground Wallahs
  • Mess - dining room

N[edit]

  • Nickels - propaganda leaflets [strictly speaking, not a slang term but a cover name used in the RAF to describe/disguise leaflet dropping, which was known as 'nickelling' [2]]

O[edit]

  • Old Man - the Squadron Commanding Officer
  • Oppo - Mate or Colleague
  • Orderly - Performing admin responsibility on that day which is different from normal duties e.g. "Billet Orderly" or "Orderly Officer"

P[edit]

  • Packet, to catch a - to be on the receiving end of offensive fire
  • Penguin - officers with no operational experience or haven't flown (Comes from the fact that "Penguins don't have wings")
  • Piece of Cake - an easy target with little opposition
  • Pit - barrack-room bed
  • Plonk - Aircraftman second class (AC2), the lowest rank in the RAF (also known as AC Plonk)
  • Plumber - Armourer
  • Prang - Crash, from the Malay word meaning 'war'
  • Pukka Gen - Good general Information.
  • Plentyful Supply- A lot of
  • Pull your Finger Out' - Get on with it.

R[edit]

  • Reveille - Time in early morning airmen are woken and must get up
  • Rigger - Ground tradesman responsible for maintaining aircraft airframes
  • Rock Apes - RAF Regiment personnel
  • Rook - Boy Entrant term for a new entrant
  • R.O.P. - Restriction of privileges (new official name for Jankers)
  • Ruddy' - Seems to be of common use in the 40's for 'Bloody'

S[edit]

  • Scopies - Fighter Controllers
  • Scrambled Egg - gold braiding on a Group Captain or Air Officers' hat
  • Shiney - Administration personnel
  • Shuftie - to look at
  • Shuftie Kite - reconnaissance aircraft
  • Signal - a written message or order sent between bases
  • Signals - Department and Personnel involved with all ground communications
  • Skive - to evade your work/duty/responsibility
  • Snowdrops - RAF Police
  • Sooty - Ground tradesman responsible for maintaining aircraft engines
  • Spoof - a diversionary raid or operation
  • Sprog - a "new boy" fresh from training
  • Square bashing - Basic training course for new entrant recruits.
  • Squabbling Bleeder - Squadron Leader
  • Squirt - a short machine gun burst
  • Some Clot'- Some idiot.

T[edit]

  • Tail End Charlies - rear gunners (also known as Arse End Charlies)
  • Target for tonight - girlfriend
  • Tower, the - Air traffic control (also known as Air Tragic)
  • Twelve Fifty - RAF ID Card
  • Twilights - WAAF underwear, light coloured, summer-weight
  • Two Five Two action - put a man on a charge for indiscipline
  • Two Six Heave - used to co-ordinate pushing aircraft or hangar doors

V[edit]

  • Vegetables - acoustic or magnetic mines

W[edit]

  • Wizard / Wizzo - first class, excellent
  • Whats The Odds - What are the chances

References[edit]

  1. ^ Julie Coleman, A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries, IV 1937-1984 
  2. ^ Brooks, Tim, British Propaganda to France, 1940-1944: Machinery, Method and Message, Edinburgh University, Press, 2007'