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  • World War II 1939-1945
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Jacksonville, Florida.
December, 1942

The following terms come from an educational handout issued during World War II at a Naval Reserve Officer Indoctrination School at the US Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. These Naval Reserve officers were classified as A-V(S), and were members of the Volunteer Reserve (Special Service). A-V(S) officers were aviation officers, commissioned or warrant, including gunners, radio electricians, machinists, aerographers, and photographers, qualified for specialist duties. The only editorial change to the text has been the alphabetization of definitions for the convenience of readers.

Abaft In direction of stern (behind).
Aft Behind or rear portion of ship.
Athwartship At right angle to fore and aft line.
Aye, Aye Sir Reply to officer’s order – meaning “I understand and will carry out the order.”
Bearing The direction of an object from the observer.
Belay To make fast, to disregard or delay executing an order or command.
Below Below decks.
Bilge The bottom part of a ship or boat next to the keel.
Binnacle List Sick list
Bitts Vertical pieces of metal secured to the deck of a vessel. Used to secure hawsers under heavy strain.
Bitter-End The end of a rope.
Bos’n’s Chair The piece of a board on which a man working aloft is swung.
Bow Forward end of a ship.
Brackish Moderately salty water.
Bright Work Brass work, polished.
Bulwarks Plating around vessel above the upper deck.
Capstan A barrel of wood or steel fitted to revolve on a vertical axis. Used to hoist anchor or heavy weights.
Case Guns Guns which use projectile and powder combined into a cartridge.
Chains The place or platform forward from which the lead line is heaved.
Coaming The raised boundary of hatchways or doors to keep water from going below.
Compartment Physical division of a ship.
Conning Directing the helmsman in steering a vessel.
Davits Curved metal spars projecting over the ship’s side, used for hoisting boats and heavy weights.
Deadlights Pieces of heavy glass fixed into ship’s deck or sides to admit light.
Deadweight (capacity) The difference between a vessel’s light and loaded displacement.
Dog Watch One of the two hour watches from 1600 to 2000.
(1600-1800 – 1st dog watch)
(1800-2000 – 2nd dog watch)
Dungarees Working clothes (blue overall type material).
Eyes of the Ship The extreme forward portion of the ship.
Fantail After part of ship overhanging rudder and propeller.
Field Day Day for cleaning up all parts of ship.
Flotsam Floating wreckage.
Fore Front of ship.
Freeboard That portion of (not superstructure) side of vessel above water line.
Galley The cooking compartment aboard ship.
Gross Tonnage The measure of the cubical contents of a vessel below decks.
Hatchway The opening in a deck forming a passageway from one deck to another.
Hawse Pipes Pipes in the bow for the anchor cable.
Head Toilet.
Irish Pennants Rope yarns or loose ends hanging (very unseamanlike).
Jacob’s Ladder A ladder of rope with wooden steps for use over the side.
Keel Lowest center line longitudinal member, the backbone of the ship.
Landfall Sighting land.
Leave Authorized absence from duty for more than 48 hours.
Liberty Authorized absence from duty for 48 hours or less.
Line Rope.
Lee Shore A shore onto which the wind is blowing.
Lee Side Side away from the wind.
Look Alive Admonition to be alert.
Lucky Bag A safe place where articles of clothing and other articles found adrift are placed for safekeeping. Those claiming articles in “Lucky Bag” are subject to demerits.
Make Water To leak.
Midships Middle section of ship.
Muster Roll call or assembly.
Overhead Ceiling.
Passageway Hallway.
Pass the Word Give information.
Pipe Down Keep quiet.
Port Left side of ship looking forward.
Ports Openings in the ship’s side for various purposes – light – air – guns, etc.
Scuppers Holes in the side of the ship through which water is discharged from the waterways.
Smoking Lamp When smoking lamp is lighted, smoking is permitted; when smoking lamp is out, smoking is not permitted.
Speed Cone A canvas cone painted yellow; to indicate to other vessels in formation the actual speed that a ship’s engines are making.
Stanchions Vertical pillars supporting a beam or some other portion of a ship.
Stand By A preparatory order.
Starboard Right side of ship looking forward.
Stem The vertical extension of the keep forward.
Stern After part of vessel.
Sternpost The vertical extension of the keel aft.
S.R.B.P. Short Range Battle Practice.
Subcaliber Gun A small gun mounted on the side or in the bore of a larger gun for use in drill.
Swab Mop. Swabbing may be the act of mopping. Sometimes the order to mop the deck is given as “Clamp down the deck.”
Taffrail Rail around the vessel’s stern.
Topside Above decks.
Truck A cap or metal fitting at the summit of a flag staff or masthead.
Turn To To begin work.
Two Block To hoist until all the way up.


Ahoy Synonym for hello used in hailing boats or vessels.
Aiguillette Gold shoulder cord worn by an aide; naval aide wears gold with blue threading, military aide, gold with red threading.
Anchor (adj) Lowest, as “anchor” man, “anchor” section.
Ash can Depth charge.
Barge Power or pulling boat used by an admiral; carries stars on bow.
Batt. (n) Battalion.
Bear a hand. Order to help or hurry.
Belay That As you were.
Between the devil and the deep blue sea Where a man found himself swinging when he tried to pay the devil.
Bilge (n) To flunk, fail.
Black Gang The engineering force.
Blou. (n) Blouse.
Boatswain One who tends a large boat or vessel.
Bone (v) Study.
Brace (n) Correct military posture.
Breeze, Shooting the Swapping lies, idle talk.
Brig Place for confinement of prisoners; Two master square-rigged vessel.
Bulkhead (n) Wall.
Bust (v) To sound, as “formations ‘busted;’” also to fail.
Buzzard (n) The eagle or rating badge.
Caulk or Caulk Off (v) To take a nap.
Ceiling Zero Clouds right down on the ground; no visibility.
Charlie Noble The galley smokestack.
Chinese Gangway A boat making an approach to a ship in the wrong direction.
Chinese Landing Nose up (minor landing accident ending upon nose and wheels.)
Chips A carpenter's mate.
Chit Letter, note, voucher, receipt.
Chow Food, a meal of any sort.
Clipper Square-rigged sailing vessel developed in the US between 1840-1860.
Coxswain One who tends a smaller boat.
Crabtown (n) Annapolis.
Crack (v) To open, as to “Crack a port.”
Cut of his jib. Synonym for appearance.
Cutthroat (n) One eager to oil the wheels of his own progress.
Davy Jones’ Locker Where things go when given the deep six, the bottom of the sea.
Dead Marine An empty bottle.
Deck (n) Floor.
Deck ape A deck hand.
Devil to Pay Originally referred to the very difficult job of applying hot pitch to the devil or the seam immediately above the water line.
D.O. (n) Duty Officer.
Dope (n) The inside secret of anything; one unsatisfactory in common sense; (v) dope off, forget.
Dropped in Excessively hard landing.
Ear Banger An "apple polisher."
Epaulletes Shoulder ornaments for dress uniforms which look like hair brushes and are known as swabs.
Exec. Executive Officer.
Eyes in the Boat Admonition to keep head and eyes front.
Fantail The rear part of a ship which overhangs the rudder and the propeller.
First Luff First Lieutenant.
Fish Torpedo.
Flag Officer Rear Admiral or above (officer personal flag).
Fourth Class Liberty Restriction to a ship in port.
Foul anchor Device anchor worn on officer's cap. Personal badge of a British Lord High Admiral which was adopted by the British Navy.
Frigate Two-decked, three masted square-rigged warship, duties similar to those of modern destroyers and cruisers.
Gangway Passage, aisle, or hall aboard ship.
Gig Power or pulling boat used by a captain; long gold arrow along gunnel.
Give it the Gun Open the throttle.
Give the Deep Six To throw overboard.
Gouge (n) Solution to problem, key to exam; (v) to cheat.
Grease (n) Pull or influence.
Greasy (a) Over regulation.
Grease Mark (n) Aptitude for service mark.
Gripe (n) or (v) Expression of disapproval.
Gundeck (v) To put on, feign intoxication.
Gunnel or Gunwale Upper edge of the side of an open boat.
Gyp joint Ship's service store.
Handsomely (adv) Slowly or carefully.
Holy Joe (n) The Chaplain.
Holystones Brick-like blocks used for scrubbing wooden decks; use of a sandstone from an abandoned church led to name. Holystones are also called God Rocks.
Idlers Men on shipboard not subject to regular night watch, i.e. sick bay attendants, yeoman, cooks, etc.
Iron cow A machine for mixing powdered milk.
Jack of the dust Commissary steward's helper.
Jamoke, Java, Joe (n) Coffee.
Jimmy Legs (n) Yard police, master-at-arms.
Joe pot Coffee pot; coffee is referred to as Joe or mud.
Knock Off (v) To stop whatever you are doing.
Ladder (n) Stairway.
Lend a hand Request for assistance.
Master-at-arms Not a rating; title given petty officer with police duties.
Mud hook Anchor.
Mustang (n) A Commissioned officer who has risen from the ranks.
Nav. (n) Navigation.
Non-Reg (a) Non Regulation.
Number Jumper (n) Same as cutthroat.
On the Beam Right on the course as determined by “radio course signal” when flying by instrument.
P-Poor (n) Pretty poor - an expression of scorn.
Pipe Down (n) Warning to keep quiet.
Plank owner One who has been aboard a ship for a longtime.
Port (n) Window.
P-rade (n) Parade.
Prop (n) Propeller.
P-Work (n) Practical work, quiz.
Rate (n) A privilege by virtue of rank; to give an opinion of.
Ratey (a) Applies to those who take advantage of the rates of others.
R.H.I.P. Rank hath its privileges.
Ring it out Stunt violently.
Rope Yarn Sunday The afternoon of regular working day when men are given time off. The name comes from the use of this time for darning socks and sewing on buttons.
Sack (n) Official responsibility.
Savior (n) One who is intellectually brilliant.
Scullery Dish washing. One who is assigned this duty is called a "Will O' the Wisp."
Scuttlebutt (n) A drinking fountain; rumors, usually unfounded.
Secure (v) To stop work (knock off) or make fast.
Shack A room. Radio room is referred to as the radio shack.
Sheet in the wind. Drunk.
Shoot Charlie Noble Clean the galley smokestack.
Shove Off (v) Leave, depart.
Sick Bay The place where the sick call is held. Sick call is for treatment of minor ailments and inspection of those likely to be hospital cases.
Skivvy (n) Underclothes.
Slipped his cable Died.
Smoke stacking Sometimes called gun decking; means to feign intoxication.
Snipe A fireman.
Splice the main brace Originally meant what it said; since it was hard to do, it rated an extra ration of rum.
Soup (n) Fog.
Sparks An electrician's mate or radioman.
Sun over the yardarm High noon; phrase used to indicate appropriate time for days' first drink.
Sundowner or Martinet Strict disciplinarian.
Swabo (n) Zero.
Take to the Silk,
or Bail Out
Jump out in a parachute.
Tea Fight Afternoon tea.
Three sheets in the wind. Very drunk.
Trou (n) Trousers.
Up the pole On the water wagon.
Wash out Landing Gear Wreck or demolish landing gear.
Weigh Lift from the bottom.
Wind It Up Start the engine.
Yehudi Box Automatic pilot.



Published: Tue Sep 12 15:21:21 EDT 2017