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Common MILITARY expressions & vocabulary in everyday life

Hi, everybody. Welcome back
to I’m Adam. In today’s lesson we’re going to
look at some military expressions and slang that are used in
everyday English. So, in many situations, when there is a war and there’s
obviously going to be a military all the time, many words that are used by the soldiers eventually
become common in everyday English and are used all the time. Now, especially if you
watch war movies, you’re going to hear some of these words. Actually, you’re going to
hear a lot of these words, so it’s a good idea to know what they mean. But we
also use them in everyday situations, and I’ll explain some
of these as we go. So, first we’re going to look at the actual
words and expressions. “AWOL”, this means Absent WithOut Leave. Okay? Although… So, I’ll explain
that in a second. “MIA” means Missing In Action. Okay? Now, you can “have someone’s 6”,
“copy/roger”, I’ll explain these. These, similar. A “dud”, “snafu”, “alpha,
bravo, charlie, x-ray, yankee, zulu”, “Uncle Sam”, “collateral damage”, “coup de
grace”, and “FUBAR” or “soup sandwich”. Okay, let’s start with “AWOL”. Absent WithOut
Leave. So, in the military, if you leave your base or leave your post without permission…
So, “leave” basically means permission. If you leave… If you go away from your base
or your post and you don’t have permission, then you are considered AWOL. If you’re gone
long enough, then you will go to jail. Okay? The military… In the military, you can’t
leave your post, you can’t leave jail. But we use this in everyday situations. So, I
planned an organization, like I’m helping some people, I’m a volunteer, and I got a group
of people to help me, and at our meeting one person didn’t show up. And I say: -“Where’s
Mike?” -“Ah, he’s AWOL.” It means nobody knows where he is. He left, he didn’t show up.
Sometimes we call it a “no-show”. A “no-show” means the person didn’t appear where he was
supposed to be. He didn’t come to the meeting, he didn’t come wherever. In an office, somebody is supposed
to get all this work done, but the boss is asking: -“Where’s the work? Where
is this person who had to do it?” -“I don’t know. He’s AWOL. He’s gone
AWOL.” It means he’s disappeared. Okay? It’s not very dissimilar from “missing in
action”. So, in a war, sometimes soldiers, they’re fighting, everybody’s working together,
but one soldier, nobody knows where he is. Maybe he got killed, or maybe he got injured,
or maybe he’s making his way back. But right now, I don’t know where he is. He is missing
in action, in the middle of the battle. So, it’s the same thing in everyday life. If somebody
is MIA, it means he’s disappeared. So, it’s very similar to absent without leave, but
MIA means he was here but then disappeared. I don’t know where he went. So, we had a meeting
and in the meeting we had a break, and we come back from break and one person didn’t return.
-“So, where is he?” -“I don’t know. He’s MIA.” He’s missing. He’s gone somewhere. Maybe
he’ll come back later. Just in case you’re wondering: “killed in action,
KIA” is another expression. Now, to “have someone’s 6”, you’ve seen this
on police shows or in war movies all the time. In a clock: 12 is forward, 6 is behind you,
3, 9, all the numbers of the clock. Okay? So, to “have someone’s 6” means to have someone’s
back, to watch out for them or to support them, or to make sure that nothing bad is
going to come where they can’t see it. Okay? So, 6, behind; 12, ahead. “Copy” and “roger”. When you’re talking on a
walkie-talkie or on a telephone these days, however way you communicate, “copy” means message
received. So, your boss or your commander sends you the message: “Copy”, means I got
it, I understood. “Roger” if an order comes in: -“I want you to do this.” -“Roger.” It
means I got the message, and I will do what I’ve been asked to do. And we use this in
everyday life. On the phone your boss says: -“This is what I need.” -“Copy.
Roger. No problem.” “Dud”, a dud. So, think about a grenade, like
the little thing, you pull the pin, you throw it, it blows up. Or a shell, you fire it, it
goes, lands, “bloop”, nothing. It doesn’t blow up. Or the grenade, you pull the pin,
you throw it, “dud”. That sound: “dud”. It falls, it doesn’t explode. So, a “dud” means
something that didn’t work or like a failure. You can… We even say this about people. Okay?
So, this guy, we hired him to do a particular job or a girl went out with this guy on a date,
and: -“How was it?” -“Oh, he was a dud.” It means he’s no good. He didn’t do what he’s
supposed to do. He’s a bit of a failure. So we use this word as well. A “snafu” is a big mix-up or a big confusion.
So, somebody was supposed to do something, but it didn’t happen and everybody got confused,
nobody knows what happened – it’s a snafu. So, here, we also use this in everyday language.
Again, let’s get into a corporate situation. I’m suing somebody and my lawyer was supposed
to put the paperwork into the courts. But when he went down there, he handed it into
them, and then they lost it or they misplaced it or nobody knows. There’s a big snafu, and
now my court trial is delayed because of this snafu, because of this
mix-up, confusion. Okay? In the military, they don’t use everyday words
or even letters. So, when they want to say something, they want to use letters, they
use a different alphabet. A, b, c, x, y, z, and all, of course, all the words in between.
So, on the phone, if they want to give a code or they want to give a message, they’re going
to use this language. So sometimes if you’re watching a movie, you’ll hear: “Alpha, bravo
29”, whatever, that’s the company name and the group and position, and all that. But
if you hear: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”, I think everybody knows
what this expression means, you use it on your text all the time: “What the…?” etc. But in the
military, they’re going to say: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”. “Uncle Sam”. Now, this is everybody’s favourite
uncle, he brings you toys, he brings you candy. Oh, no, sorry. That’s not what I meant. Uncle
Sam is the US Military. That’s their nickname for the US Military, Uncle Sam or the US Government.
Okay? This is a very common expression. Now, if you’re thinking: “What does Uncle Sam look
like?” Think about those… The old posters, the guy with the blue hat and the American
jacket, he has a beard and the white hair, and he goes: “I want you.” That’s
Uncle Sam, the US Military. “Collateral damage”. So, now, when the army,
when the military sends a guided missile… They want to blow up this particular building,
so they send in their missile and it’s a big missile, and the whole thing blows up. The problem
is that all the pieces, all the fragments of the bomb, of the shell, they fly everywhere
and sometimes they destroy people’s houses or they kill people. And those are innocent
people, they weren’t targeted, but the bomb was so big that all the pieces went laterally,
to the side. And that’s the collateral damage. So with the target, there’s other damage. So,
but we use this in everyday life, so you do something, even… Even in like a corporation.
I buy… I have a company, I buy your company, and unfortunately, all my staff is going to
get priority in terms of positions. So, some of the collateral damage of this buyout is
that some of the staff from that company have to be let go. It’s collateral damage, innocent
people get hurt, but that’s what happens when you do a strike. “Coup de grace”, this is a French word. “Coup”
means like stroke or cut in some cases. “Coup de grace” means like the final or the graceful
ending. So, somebody is injured, especially when you’re talking about your enemy. Your
enemy is on the ground, he’s injured, he’s suffering. Now, you want to be nice. Well,
you don’t want to be nice, I mean, you shot him, but you don’t want him to suffer. He’s
still a human being. You shoot him in the head and he’s out of his misery. So, the “coup
de grace” is the final blow. If you do it with a sword, you cut off his head; with a
gun, you shoot him in his head. You finish him off. But in any battle, you’re having
a stiff battle, you’re just about to win, now all you need to do is deliver the coup
de grace. You need that final strike, that final blow, and you finish your opponent,
you finish your enemy. And we use this very regularly. Keep in mind: not “grace”,
“gra”. “Coup de grace”, and no “p” either. Lastly, now this you’ll see in a lot of the
older war movies. It’s not that common anymore, but: “FUBAR”, F’d Up Beyond All Recognition.
So, a really bad situation. Everything’s gone wrong, people are dying, things are blown
up, maybe you’re losing. Very, very, very bad situation. So, this is the old expression.
Modern soldiers don’t use “FUBAR” anymore. Now they call it a “soup sandwich”, because
imagine, you take a piece of bread, you pour your soup on to it, put another piece of bread
and try to eat that – it’s a bit messy. Not a very good situation. But soon enough, this
will probably be part of everyday language. For now, it’s “FUBAR”. It’s
a really bad situation. Okay, so I hope you understand these expressions.
When you watch your war movies, you’ll understand what they’re talking about a little bit
at least. So, I hope you enjoyed it. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel if you liked
it. If you have any questions, go to There’s a forum, you can ask all the questions
you have there. There’s also a quiz to test your understanding of these
words and expressions. And, of course, come back again, watch more
videos, and we’ll see you soon. Bye-bye.

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