The Smart MilSpouse’s Guide to Colorful Military Acronyms, Abbreviations & Phrases

The Smart MilSpouse's Guide to Colorful Military Acronyms, Abbreviations & Phrases

There are several things that happen to us when we marry a service member. The first thing that comes to mind are the acronyms and abbreviations of military speak that enter our vocabulary.

The initials can become words themselves and quickly become unavoidable when speaking about military life. PCS, TDY, DEERS, PX, BX, CONUS, OCONUS and the list goes on and on. As military spouses, you pick up on those particular military acronyms quickly.

Not only do acronyms rule, the military phonetic alphabet is used to explain certain situations. Why they couldn’t use the acronyms instead of repeating whole words over again beats me, but it is also used on a regular occasion by military personnel. Roger that?

To my husband, all military acronyms make complete sense. I guess it becomes too real for him that he couldn’t imagine it not making sense.

For me, I’m constantly learning everyday, especially when he comes home with a new story. When he explains what each acronym means, I have a mini-“aha” moment. It makes sense once it’s called out.

Does your service member use military acronyms that center around the F-bomb? Mine too. Here is a list of military acronyms that often confuse me.

The Smart MilSpouse's Guide to Colorful Military Acronyms, Abbreviations & Phrases

The Smart MilSpouse’s Guide to Colorful Military Acronyms, Abbreviations & Phrases

Is it me or is the F-bomb a theme within military speak? You’ll understand if you keep reading and I apologize in advance for the colorful language.

For example, the time things were FUBAR and he had trouble cleaning it up…uh?

Wondering what FUBAR means?

FUBAR: F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition

It equals a not-so-great situation.

There are plenty more where that came from:

FIGMO: F***, I Got My Orders
We can definitely relate to this one, especially if it’s away from a favorite duty station.

HMFIC: Head Mother f***er In Charge
No explanation needed.

MFWIC: Mother F***er What’s In Charge
My husband heard British soldiers talk about the MRWICs once. He likes it better than HMFIC.

SNAFU: Situation Normal, All F***ed Up


SUSFU: Situation Unchanged, Still F***ed Up

Cluster F***: Disorganized in the worst possible way

GIGO: Garbage In Garbage Out

It’s used to explain that bad information given will result in bad information or results afterward.

JEEP: Just Enough Essential Parts

BOLO: Be On the Look Out

BCG: Birth Control Goggles/Glasses

This one stuck with me from when I was a child. I found my dad’s pair once when I was a little girl and he told me there were his BCGs, well, now I get it…

WILCO: Will Comply

SSDD: Same Shit Different Day

SSDDBS: Same Shit Different Day Bigger Shovel

The following aren’t military acronyms, but it’s military slang that you will often hear your soldier using around the house.

Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Adios Mother F***er

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: What the F***

Lima Charlie: Loud and Clear

Charlie Mike: Continue Mission

Mikes: Minutes (like 60 seconds)

For some reason, it took me awhile for this one to stick.

Sierra Hotel: S**t Hot

Another one I heard from my dad, but never learned what it meant till I was an adult. It’s a term of endearment, so to speak. If you’re Sierra Hotel, that means you’re on point.

Oscar Mike : On the Move

This one isn’t an acronym and it doesn’t use the military phonetic alphabet, but it is one of my favs:

Pop Smoke: Pop Smoke can be used for signaling or when smoke is in the area. When said colloquially, it means you’re going to leave the area or you’re gone. With that said, I’m about to Pop Smoke y’all.

Have you heard confusing military acronyms and wondered what they meant? I’m sure I missed a lot of great ones and would love to hear what you have to add to this list. 


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