Speaking Like a Soldier: The Veteran's Tongue

By Aaron Young and Joe Strauser

Biddy, Hoosey Dooksy, Jularky, Pig Duck, Pigeon - Names for Sweethearts back home.

Big Bug - An Officer

Blue Pill - Bullet.

Bubs - Friends. also known as;"Pards, Chums, Comrades, or Messmates."

Bug Juice - Liquor. also known as; "Pop-skull, Noggin, and Smile."

Bully - Term that can be used for almost any occasion.

Bungay - 19th Century equivalent for "Go To Hell!"

Camp Canard - False news or rumors.

Carry Guts to a Bear - To Do Something Worthless.

Cheese Knife - Officer's Sword. also known as;"Toad-Stabber."

Company Q - Fictitious unit where all cowards went.

Cotbelly - Man who meddles in woman's work.

Damaged - To Be Drunk. also known as; "Slewed, Walking like a Virginia Fence."

Dipper - Tin Cup.

Dough-Face - Easily Influenced Person.

Dunky - Dyed in the Wool - Something ingrained.

Feather Bed Soldiers - Troops permanently stationed in the Rear.

Fetch Up - Stop Suddenly.

Fid - A Plug or Small Bunch.

Fill the Bin - To Agree With Someone.

Fire in the Wrong Flock - A Mistake.

To Flat Someone - To reject a Lover.

Flummix - To Give Up.

Get the Mitten - To be Rejected by a Lover.

Grub Bag - Haversack.

Honeyfuggle - Swindle.

Hoof or Tramp - To March.

Indian Style - To March in a Strait Line.

Jack at a Pinch - A last resort.

Jackass Batteries - Mountain Howitzer Cannons.

Jigadier-Brindle - Brigadier General.

Johan - Worthless Soldier. also known as; "Coffee-Coolers, and a Galoot".

Kit - All of Soldier's Belongings and Equipment.

Lincoln Pie - Army Bread. also knownas "Tooth dullers, Worm Castles, Hardtack(Eastern Theatre), and Hard Cracker(Western Theatre)."

Loco Foco - Self Igniting Match.

Logger Head - Union Soldier from Pennsylvania.

Mung - False.

Nobby - Stylish.

Old Birds - Veterans.

Old Nick - The Devil.

On the Square - To Tell the Truth.

Paper Collars - New Recruit. also known as "Awkward Squad, Fresh Fish, Straw Foots, GreenHorns, and Tenderfoots." see also "Dough-Face".

Things to Say to a New Recruit: - Hello Sonny does yer mother know your out!" Say, bub, give us a hunk o' gingerbread!"

Pie Eater - Country Boy.

Potato Digger - Irishman.

Rocks, Greenbacks - Money.

Sand - Nerve. also known as; "guts or spunk"

Sardine Boxes - Officer's Shoulder Straps.

Scrouge - to Crowd or Squeeze.

Sink - Latrine.

Soft Corn - Flattery.

Spin Street Yarn - To take a walk.

Spoopsy - A Silly Fellow.

Stepper - A High Spirited Person.

Stretch Yer Blanket - To Lie.

Sucker - A person from Illinois.

Talking Iron - Pistol.

Tippybob - Wealthy Class.

Traps or Trucks - Soldiers gear which hung from straps.

Turn up His Toes - To Die.

Virginia Quickstep - Diarrhea.

Wake the Wrong Passenger - To Catch the Wrong Person.

Webfoot - Infantryman.

Miscellaneous Phrases:

Grab a Root! - Can be used in two instances; When Foraging for food(this is where it was developed), or when someone trips or falls.

Here's Yer Mule! - A greeting to any mounted soldier.

Same Ol' Rijiment! or Same Ol' Rijiment Only We've Drawed New Clothes! - An answer to any passerby who dared to ask; "What Regiment is this?."

Who Wouldn't be a Soldier? - Synonomous with "Who Cares?."


Hardtack and Coffee; Billings, John J. 1887.

Corporal Si Klegg and his Pard; Hinman, William F. 1887.

Reenactor's Journal. Oct. '94. Vol. 5, No.1. "Language of the Time".

Co. G, 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry, December, '95. "Some Mung News from Joe Strauser".