The Ultimate WWII Military Slang Quiz


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: LifeJourneys/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

There is nothing on this earth as terrible as war.

After World War I, many believed they had seen the last of a global conflict on that scale. Germany had been punished, the League of Nations had been formed and things certainly to have improved politically. But soon Germans rallied behind a new leader, someone who promised to break the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles: Adolf Hitler. 

Hitler's expansionist policies in Europe, as well as those of Japan in the Pacific, soon plunged the world into another world war, one that brought untold misery. In fact, estimates suggest that over 60 million people died between 1939 and 1945. Many of the dead were civilians. And armed forces on both sides were tasked with winning the war for their superiors. As in World War I, these men developed a language of their own, slang terms that they used on an everyday basis.

So in this quiz, we don't want to test your knowledge of the history of World War II but the slang that soldiers used. Terms like "flyboy", "G.I. Jesus" and "Walrus" made their appearance during the conflict. Do you know what they meant or referred to?

Then this is the quiz just for you!

American soldiers sometimes used this term to describe German soldiers.

Although one of the lesser known phrases by which U.S. troops called German soldiers, they did refer to them as Ratzys from time to time. But why Ratzy? Well, it's a combination word actually, taking Rat and Nazi and combining them.


In World War II, who was a "G.I. Jesus"?

The Chaplain Corps played a very important role in the American armed forces during World War II. Not only were they there to deliver spiritual service to soldiers, but they also had the unenviable task of administering last rites or holding burial services. Chaplains trained at the US Army Chaplain School.


If troops referred to someone as the "Admiral of the Swiss Navy" they saw them as ______

Referring to someone as the "Admiral of the Swiss Navy" was a fairly derogatory statement. Not only did it mean the person who said it though that someone thought too much of themselves, but it also confirmed that they didn't like them very much. Of course, Switzerland is a landlocked country with no navy.


What was a solider on "blanket drill" doing?

Soldiers quickly learned, particularly those in combat areas, that sleep was to be taken whenever possible. During operations, a soldier might not get the chance to sleep for many hours. When they did, they often called it "blanket duty".


If a soldier requested a pint of "cat beer" in the canteen, what did he want to drink?

It seems that pretty much every kind of drink had a nickname during World War II. And yes, milk was known as "cat beer".


When an army doctor told a soldier he had "Cupid’s itch" what was he suffering from?

There is no point hiding it. Soldiers during both World War I, World War II and every other war since contracted many different venereal diseases. This might have happened on a visit to a brothel while on leave, or even while on occupational duty in other countries. In World War II, this was called "Cupid's itch".


An "Army banjo" was a ______

A shovel or entrenching tool was of critical importance to a soldier during World War II. Why? Well, if he was ever in an area without cover, he could use it to dig a foxhole for protection.


A "Tommy gun" was which of these weapons below?

By the time World War II rolled along, the Thompson machine gun was already famous. Why? Well, it was the weapon of choice for 1920s and '30s gangsters. The "Tommy" gun was a fine weapon and of critical importance during World War II.


"We have bingo ammo". What does the term "bingo" refer to?

"Bingo" was a term which referred to an article someone was running out of. You could have "bingo" ammo, fuel, cigarettes, money ... just about anything.


When a US Navy pilot was told to "buster" to a location, he was to ______

If a US Navy airman heard the term "buster" crackle over his headset, he knew he had to get to the location given as quickly as possible. As an example, he might hear "blue 2, proceed heading 180, buster, enemy bombers inbound."


The U.S. military headquarters known as the "Puzzle Palace" was?

Situated in Arlington County, Virginia, The Pentagon is the home of the U.S. Department of Defense. Building started in 1941 and was finished by January 15, 1943. It is the largest office building in the world.


A "Ma Deuce" was which kind of weapon in World War II?

The M2 Browning .50 cal machine gun first entered service with U.S. military forces in 1933 and was the standard heavy machine gun in World War II. It was even used on bombers as part of the defensive armament and as well as in fixed-wing fighters.


What day was "Eagle Day" for U.S. armed forces?

Payday was simply known as "Eagle Day" to most of the U.S. Armed forces during World War II. Why? Well, some coins issued to the soldiers during that period featured an eagle crest on them. And that's how payday received its name.


Do you have any idea what "Monopoly money" would be when referenced by an American serviceman?

Although they were paid, getting their hands on foreign money could be an advantage to a U.S. soldier, especially if they were based in England before D-Day or in France on their way to Germany. Foreign money was called "Monopoly money".


General Dwight D. Eisenhower was known by what slang nickname?

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force that invaded France in June 1944. He was affectionately known as "Ike" to his men. Eisenhower went on to become the 34th President of the United States.


A weapon known as a "grease gun" was a _____?

A "grease gun" is an M3 submachine gun. It received its name due to the fact that it looked similar to the tool of the same name. The M3 carried a 30-round magazine and entered service in 1943.


A soldier accused of having "table muscle" is ?

Someone said to have "table muscle" was fat. Rest assured, this wasn't a soldier in basic training or one on the front line. This term was often used to describe those who had desk jobs.


An American soldier's slang name for a German was a _________?

The most common slang term for a German used by U.S. forces was "Kraut". This came from the German's love for a pickled cabbage dish they called sauerkraut.


Who was a "hashburner"?

Most of the time, the standard of food in the U.S. armed forces wasn't of the highest quality. It was about making piles of food to feed lots of hungry mouths. And the men who made them became known as "hashburners".


What was the name to given to regular soldiers in the U.S. Army?

American Army troops were known as G.I.s. This, they said, stood for government issue. G.I.'s saw service around the globe during World War II including in Africa, Italy, France and Germany.


What nickname was given to U.S. Marines by German forces?

When German forces encountered Marines in combat, they were so impressed by their tenacity that they called them Teufel-Hunden. Translated, this means devil dogs. Although this occurred during World War I, the name stuck in World War II.


A soldier who had "cashed in his chips" _______

Sadly, a soldier who had "cashed in his chips" had died, probably killed in action. There was a Navy and Marine equivalent for this as well, "cast the last anchor."


"Bubble dancing" would see a soldier on basic training doing a certain task. What was it?

During their training, soldiers could be given all sorts of extra duties. One of these involved washing up dishes, or "bubble dancing"


Do you know the term given to Air Force cadet who had yet to fly an aircraft?

Any Air Force cadet yet to get behind the controls of an aircraft was called a dodo. And why? Well, the dodo was a flightless bird, wasn't it, so it's the perfect name!


Soldiers often used the term "bedpan commando". Who were they referring to?

Fighting men used the term "bedpan commando" to refer to hospital corpsmen. Interestingly, some of these men even went into combat to serve on the front line.


What does "lay an egg" mean?

Interestingly, the term "lay an egg" comes from the game of cricket and means to score 0 runs. In World War II, it was used by aircrews as slang for dropping a bomb or in the case of heavy bombers, many bombs.


The U.S. Navy had many different slang terms to describe equipment. What do you think "fish" were?

Submarines played a crucial role in World War II. From the German navy using submarines (or U-boats) to cause havoc with British supply convoys from the United States to the US Navy using them to hunt the Japanese fleet, they were crucial during the conflict. Their primary way to attack enemy shipping was with torpedoes, or "fish" as submariners called them.


Aircrews feared it, but what was "flak" exactly?

Destroying enemy industry is a crucial part of winning a war. For this reason, the U.S. Air Force flew bombing missions against Japanese and German targets on a continual basis. These were protected by anti-aircraft guns which launched volley after volley of explosive shells at the raiders. This became known as "flak".


Any idea what a "Mae West" was? It was part of a pilot's equipment.

Named after singer and actress Mae West, this vital piece of equipment was often the difference between life and death after a pilot had been shot down over the sea. Essentially, it was a life vest that when inflated, allowed buoyancy from the chest up.


When a soldier received a "sugar report," he had a _____?

There is no doubt about it, soldiers thrived on news from home. War is tough, and anything that could help morale was crucial for the war effort. Of course, any letters written home were heavily censored, if need be.


What did the English call American soldiers during World War II?

The term "Yankee" actually comes from the American Civil War - it is what the Confederates called the northern Union forces. It was shortened to "Yanks" and applied to American forces that came in the thousands to Great Britain during World War II.


"Kilroy was here" made its appearance during World War II. What was it?

"Kilroy was here" was a form of graffiti that started showing up wherever American servicemen had been. It was usually drawn on a wall and looked like a bald man with a long nose peeking over something. Australian servicemen did the same, but their character was called "Foo." Records show that a depiction of Kilroy was found at Fort Knox with a date of 1937.


A "swacked" soldier was ______.

No, not dead, simply drunk. But depending on the level of drunkenness, a soldier could look dead. Some soldiers looked for booze wherever they could and were not afraid to drink, even while on the front line. And who could blame them - especially after the horrors they had seen?


What did American servicemen staying in the United Kingdom call English people?

"Limey" was originally a term used by Americans to describe British sailors in the mid-1800s. Why? Well, each day they had a ration of rum with lime juice to prevent scurvy. The name stuck and was used to describe the English during World War II.


If someone gave you a "pineapple" because you had run out, what did you get?

Military slang for a hand grenade was "pineapple." These were very important in any battle and could be used to clear a machine gun nest, for example. The German version was called a "potato masher," as it looked like the kitchen utensil.


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