Corps Terms and Definitions ::
Aft - Referring to or toward the stern (rear) of a
All Hands - All members of a command
As you were - Resume former activity
Brig - A place of confinement, a prison
Bow - The front portion of a ship
Bridge - The portion of a ship's structure from which it is
Carry On - The order to resume previous activity.
Field Day - Barracks cleanup
Galley - Shipboard kitchen; kitchen of a mess hall; mobile field
Hatch - Door or doorway.
Police - To straighten or tidy up.
Port - Left
Sea Bag - The bag used to stow personal gear.
Sick Bay - Hospital or dispensary.
Starboard - Right.
Topside - Upstairs.
Turn To - Begin work; get started.
Bivouac - Term for a camp area in the field.
Boot - A Marine recruit.
Bulkhead - A wall
Rack - A bed
Corpsman or Doc - A Marine or Naval term for "medic".
Cover - Any form of headgear other than a helmet.
FMF - Fleet Marine Force.
FAC - Forward Air Controller. A pilot serving with infantry units who
is responsible for coordinating close-air support with ground action.
Fire Team - The second smallest tactical unit in the Corps. The
smallest is the individual rifleman. Three Marine riflemen make up a fire
Grunt - A Marine infantryman.
Gung- Ho - Chinese term for "working together". Understood as the
team spirit pervasive in Marine Corps life. First used in Marine Raider
Battalions during WWII.
Gunner - Old naval term applied to warrant officers. Warrant officers
whose specialty is weapons still wear an exploding bomb on their collars.
Head - Bathroom, toilet, restroom, or latrine.
Hootch - Anything from a tent to a wooden hut.
Irish Pennants - Loose thread or fiber on a uniform.
Junk on the Bunk - During inspection, A Marine lays out all his gear
and uniforms (junk) on a flat surface, such as a bunk.
Things on the Springs - During inspection, A Marine lays out all his
gear and uniforms junk) on a flat surface, such as a bunk.
K-Bar - A Marine's fighting knife.
MEU - Marine Expeditionary Unit.
MOS - Military Occupational Specialty, or a Marine's primary
training. For instance: 03 stands for infantry, 02 would be intelligence,
and 08 would be artillery.
MRE - "Meal, Ready to Eat". Lightweight plastic packets of dehydrated
Maggie's Drawers - A complete miss on the firing range.
Mustang - An enlisted man or woman who has obtained an officer's
Scuttlebutt - Rumor.
Secure - Finishing up work.
Squared Away - Someone or something that makes a good impression.
Well maintained uniform or a successful exercise.
782 Gear - The equipment a Marine carries in the field, including a
web belt, suspenders, ammunition pouches, canteens, etc. Also called
"First to Fight"
Marines have been in the forefront of every American war since the founding
of the Corps. They have carried out over 300 landings on foreign shores.
They have served everywhere, from the poles to the tropics. Their record of
readiness reflects pride, responsibility and challenge.
That Marines have lived up to their motto, "Semper Fidelis" (Latin for
Always Faithful), as in Semper Fidelis - - Always faithful - - to God,
Country, and Corps. It is proven by the fact that there has never been a
mutiny among U.S. Marines. This motto was adopted about 1883. Before that,
there had been three mottoes, all traditional rather than official. The
first, "Fortitudine" (With Fortitude), appeared about 1812. The second, "By
Sea and by Land," was obviously a translation of the Royal Marines' "Per
Mare, Per Terram." Until 1848, the third motto was "To the Shores of
Tripoli," in commemoration of O'Bannon's capture of Derne in 1805. In 1848,
after the return to Washington of the Marine battalion which took part in
the capture of Mexico City, this motto was revised to "From the Halls of
Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli." The current Marine Corps motto is
shared with England's Devonshire Regiment.
In the Belleau Wood fighting in 1918, the Germans received a thorough
indoctrination in the fighting ability of the Marines. Fighting through
supposedly impenetrable woods and capturing supposedly untakeable terrain,
the persistent attacks, delivered with unbelievable courage soon had the
Germans calling Marines "Teufelhunde," referring to the fierce fighting dogs
of legendary origin. Urrrhhh Raaah!
"Esprit de Corps"
The "spirit" of a unit. This spirit is commonly reflected by all members. It
implies devotion and loyalty to the Marine Corps, with deep regard for
history, traditions and honor.
The Marines' long-standing nickname goes back to the leather stock or
neckpiece, which was part of the Marine uniform from 1775 to 1875. The
leather bands around their throats were intended to ensure that Marines kept
their heads erect.
Refers to the victories in World War II, especially at Iwo Jima, the largest
all Marine battle in history. Admiral Nimitz's ringing epitome of Marine
fighting on Iwo Jima was applied to the entire Marine Corps in World War II:
"Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
The term "gyrene" is a jocular reference to Marines which was first used in
England as early as 1894. It was used in the United States around the time
of World War I. Its exact origin is unknown, but it did appear to have a
derogatory meaning in its early usage. It has been suggested that the term
may embody a reference to pollywog, a naval slang term for a person who has
not yet "crossed" (the equator), hence, a landlubber.
A slang term used by sailors as early as World War II to refer to members of
the Marine Corps, drawing the term from the resemblance of the Marine dress
blues uniform, with its high collar, to a Mason jar.
"Soldiers of the Sea"
A traditional and functional term for Marines, dating back to the British in
Marine, Always a Marine"
This truism is now the official motto of the Marine Corps League. The
origin of the statement is credited to a gung-ho Marine Corps master
sergeant, Paul Woyshner. During a barroom argument he shouted, "Once a
Marine, always a Marine!" MSgt. Woyshner was right. Once the title "U.S.
Marine" has been earned, it is retained. There are no ex-Marines or
(1) active duty Marines
(2) retired Marines
(3) reserve Marines
(4) Marine veterans.
Nonetheless, once one has earned the title, he remains a Marine for life.
"Good night, Chesty, wherever you are"
This is an often-used tribute of supreme respect to the late and legendary
LtGen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC. Chesty! Without a doubt he was the
most outspoken Marine, the most famous Marine, the Marine who really loved
to fight, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps. Chesty
enlisted as a Private. Through incredible fortitude and tenacity he became
a living legend. He shouted battle orders in a bellow and stalked
battlefields as though impervious to enemy fire. Chesty rose to the rank of
Lieutenant General. He displayed an abiding love for the Magnificent
Grunts, especially the junior enlisted men who did the majority of the
sacrificing and dying, and utter contempt for all staff pogues of whatever
rank. During his four wars, he became the only Marine to be awarded the
Navy Cross five times. The Marines' Marine! "Goodnight, Chesty, wherever
"A Few Good Men"
On 20 March 1779 in Boston, Capt. William Jones, USMC, advertised for "a few
good men" to enlist in the Corps for naval duty. The term seemed ideally
suited for Marines, mainly because of the implication that "a few" good men
would be enough. This term has survived for over 200 years and has been
synonymous with U.S. Marines ever since