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Pogue is American pejorative military slang for non-combat MOS (military occupational specialty) staff, and other rear-echelon or support units.[1] "Pogue" frequently applies to those who do not have to undergo the risk and stresses of combat as the combat arms positions does.

History and etymology[edit]

Originally used as early as the First World War by US Marines to refer to a male homosexual in the female role.[2] At the beginning of World War II, "pogue" was used by Marine drill instructors to refer to trainees believed not to be meeting the expected standards or failing to display the appropriate esprit de corps.[3]

While the term does not appear in Army or Air Force terminology until the Korean War,[4] Linda Reinberg includes it as being in general use in Vietnam to refer to rear echelon support personnel.[5]

During Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, "pogue" referred to anyone who arrived in theater after the speaker.[6]

Due to having lost contact with its linguistic source, and possibly to avoid embarrassing civilians who might ask, the modern military vernacular has turned "pogue" into a retronym/backronym, e.g., Personnel Other than Grunts, Permanently On Garrison, Person On Ground with Unused Equipment, or Person Of Greater Use Elsewhere, the latter referring to mid-grade and senior military personnel who may have been trained/qualified/experienced as combat specialists (e.g., infantry, combat engineers, armor, special operations forces, fighter and bomber pilots, etc.), but who have been assigned to rear echelon staffs, especially senior command staffs.

"Pogey bait" is a reference to sweets or candy, which was in usage in the military as early as 1918. The term alludes to food (and other luxuries) rarely afforded to grunts in the field. To an infantry soldier, the term "pogey bait", when used, in the possessive sense (i.e. "my pogey bait", "his pogey bait", etc.) refers to a personally acquired (not issued) stash of snacks and food. Common items found in a bag of "pogey bait" include ramen noodles, hard candies (i.e. Werther's Originals, Jolly Ranchers, Dum Dums, etc.), beef jerky, Easy Cheese, and Vienna sausages (among other things). "Pogey bait" was/is used "in the field" not only as snacks and meal supplements, but also for bartering (commonly either for other food or for tobacco products).[7] "Pogey-bait run" was used as early as the 1960s to refer to any unauthorized violation of restrictions with the purpose of meeting a wife or girlfriend.[8]

"POG" is a backronym for "pogue", rising to prominence during the Global War on Terror (GWOT).[citation needed] The form "pogue" can be found in pre-GWOT novels and books written about the Vietnam War, including in glossary entries which give no indication that the term is an acronym (c.f. The 13th Valley by Vietnam veteran John M. DelVeccio).

Possible origins[edit]

"Pogee", "pogie", "pogey", are described as terms from Korean slang first by the US Army and then all services to refer to female genitals.[9]

Another possible inspiration could be the phrase "pogue mahone" from the Irish "póg mo thóin" meaning "kiss my rump", "kiss my bottom", or "kiss my ass"; the word "póg" meaning kiss. However, no references have been found that would allow one to trace such a derivation.

Gay culture[edit]

Among early 20th century gay men, "pogue" was a term for man who enjoys receptive anal sex.[10]

Related terms[edit]

The terms REMF (Standing for "Rear Echelon Mother Fucker") [11] and "Fobbit" (from Forward Operating Base, and The Hobbit)[12] are closely related terms, in that they are frequently intended as insults (although "fobbit" seems to be taken as less a term of direct abuse, and more a descriptive).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "pogue definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Encarta.msn.com. Archived from the original on 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2010-06-29.
  2. ^ Elting, John R.; Cragg, Dan; Deal, Ernest L. (1984). A dictionary of soldier talk. New York. ISBN 0684178621.
  3. ^ FUBAR: Soldier Slang of World War II, Gordon L Rottman.
  4. ^ "Listserv 14.4". Listserv.linguistlist.org. Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2010-06-29.[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ In the Field: The Language of the Vietnam War, Linda Reinberg
  6. ^ War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases from the Civil War to the War in Iraq, Paul Dickson
  7. ^ http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/1918_words/
  8. ^ A Dictionary of Soldier Talk, Colonel John R Elting
  9. ^ A Dictionary of Soldier Talk
  10. ^ Loughery, John (1998). The Other Side of Silence: Men's Lives and Gay Identities, A Twentieth-Century History. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 6. ISBN 978-0805038965.
  11. ^ https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/REMF
  12. ^ "Freaking out the FOBBITs of Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 2009

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of pogue at Wiktionary