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HMS Ark Royal

Invincible Class Aircraft Carrier

White Ensign

Royal Naval Slang & Terminology

The Royal Navy has a language all of its own and the average matelot uses a lot of terminology unheard in other walks of life. Here is a guide of the more common naval terms for those that have never served and as a gentle reminder for those that left the Navy many years ago.


Adrift To be late
Airy Fairy member of the Fleet Air Arm
Anchor-faced To be totally intoxicated by the Navy
Andrew, The The Royal Navy
Babies heads Steak & kidney puddings
Bag job A lady who's so ugly she who requires a bag over her head before sex can take place
Bag meal A packed lunch
Banyan Beach party
Belay Stop or cease
Bezzy Best as in "bezzy oppo" - best mate
Big eats Takeaway food
Bish, The Naval chaplain
Bite To be fooled into believing something stupid
Bimble Walk slowly
Bone (1) Stupid
Bone (2) To have sex with
Bootneck / booty Royal Marine
Bravo zulu (BZ) Well done
Brown hatter's overalls Pyjamas
Buffer Chief Bosuns mate
Buggery board The long board running along the inside of a bunk on a ship, separating it from the adjacent bunk.
Burberry Service issue raincoat
Buzz Rumour
Can man Canteen (NAAFI) manager
Chad Valley An unreliable piece of equipment
Channel night The final night at sea before returning to base port
Cheesy hammy eggy Ham and melted cheese on toast topped with a fried egg.
Chippy Shipwright
Chit Request form
Chogie nosh Chinese food
Chop one off Salute
Civvy Civilian
Clanky Marine engineer
Clear lower deck Whole ship's company to muster
Club swinger / clubs PT instructor
Cock & arse Officers' cocktail party
Corn dog Corned beef
Crabby Dirty
Crabfat A member of the RAF
Crash out Get your head down, go to sleep
Crimp Sleep
Crumb duster Steward
Dabber / Dabtoe Seaman or member of the Ops Branch
Deck (1) The floor
Deck (2) Knock someone to the floor
Deckhead Ceiling
Dhobie Wash
Dhobie dust  Washing powder 
Dhobie hitch Unrecognisable knot
Dhobie shack  Ship's laundry
Dig out Make an effort
Dipped in Made an unexpected gain
Dipped out Missed out on something
Dit A story
Dog  A really ugly woman
Doofer A bit that goes on something
Dose  A sexually-transmitted disease
Double-bagger Someone so ugly that you put a bag over your own head in case theirs falls off!
Drip To moan or complain
Drop a sprog Give birth
DTS Dinner Time Session (lunchtime drinking session)
Duff Pudding
Eating irons (port & starboard) Knife and fork
Essence A gorgeous woman (very occasionally a man)
Exped Adventurous training
Fanny rat Womaniser
Fat knacker An unfit person
Fish-head Fleet Air Arm's name for a sailor
Flapping Panicking (flapping around like a headless chicken)
Flash Get angry
Flash up Start (machinery)
Flat Passageway or open space between decks on a ship
Float test Dispose of something by chucking it over the side of the ship
Floggie Pornographic magazine
Foulie Service issue foul weather jacket
Four O'clockers A snack of sandwiches or buns sometimes served at 4pm when at sea.
Gash Rubbish
Gen Genuine / true as in "gen dit" - a true story
Gizzit A free gift / something unwanted that might prove useable
Gobshite Someone with a big mouth who usually talks rubbish
Goffer (1)  A large wave breaking over the ship
Goffer (2) A soft drink
Goofer Spectator
Greeny An electrician
Grey Funnel Line Royal Navy
Gronk An ugly woman
Gronk board A collection of photographs (usually from the whole mess) of former girlfriends
Gulpers A quantity of drink somewhere between "sippers" and "sandy bottoms"
Gulch Area of a messdeck between the bunks
Guz Devonport
Heads Toilets
Honky Fid Hong Kong
Homeward bounders Large untidy stitches
Hooky Leading hand
Icers Very cold
Ickies Foreign money
Jack A sailor
Jack dusty A naval stores rating 
Jenny A Wren (female sailor)
Jimmy (the 1) The First Lieutenant
Joss man Master-at-Arms 
Klebbies  Foreign money
Killick Leading hand
Kit muster A personal kit inspection
Lash up To treat someone (usually to drinks)
Limers Soft drink, usually made from powder, drank when working in hot conditions
Loafing Idly hanging around, not putting in any effort
Lower deck lawyer A rating that is always quoting rules and regulations
Maily Letter
Make & Mend An afternoon off
Matelot Sailor
Minging (1) Drunk
Minging (2) Ugly
Mob, The The Navy
Muscle bosun Fitness fanatic
NATO standard Tea or coffee with milk and two sugars
Necky Got a nerve (as in more neck than a 3 badge giraffe at action stations with a make and mend chit)
Nines No. 9 punishment - Loss of leave with extra work
Nine O'clockers A supper of sandwiches or buns sometimes served at 9pm when in harbour.
Nutty Sweets / chocolate
Nutty fiend Someone who eats a lot of sweets
Oggies Cornish pasties
Oggin The sea
Old Man, The Skipper, Commanding Oficer
Old Ships A former shipmate
One-eye Idiot
Oppo Friend / colleague
Ovies Overalls
Pash Girlfriend
Percy Soldier
Pig Officer
Piglet Midshipman
Pigsty Wardroom
Pillow fluffer Steward
Pinged To be seen
Pipe Announcement over main broadcast
Piso Tight or stingy
Pit Bed
Pompey Portsmouth
Pongo Soldier
Proffed Aquired something by dubious methods
Punkah louvre An adjustable ventilation hole
Pusser The Navy
Quaff To drink
Rabbits Presents or souvenirs
Rat-arsed Drunk
RDP Run down period (period just before going on draft when interest wanes)
Reggie Regulator (Naval policeman)
R.O.M.F.T. Roll On My Fucking Time (used by hacked of sailors eager to leave the Navy)
Roof rats Aircraft handlers
Roughers Rough seas
Rounds Routine inspections by an officer
Run ashore A night out
Sad on, have a To be depressed
Scab lifter Medical Assistant
Schoolie Instructor officer
Scran Food
Scran bag (1) A scruffy person
Scran bag (2) A bag for collected items of loose items of clothing and kit
Scratcher Bed
Sea dust Salt
Secure The end of the working day
Set Full beard
Shippers Shipmate
Shitehawk Seagull
Shithouse shinpad A method for transporting pornographic literature to the heads unnoticed.
Shitinit Be quiet!
Shitnicks Underpants
Shit on a raft Kidneys in gravy on fried bread
Shoot through Fail to turn up or leave run ashore early
Sickbay ranger Someone who spends a lot of time off sick
Sickbay shackle Safety pin
Singers Singapore
Sippers A sip of a drink
Skin Young and fresh-faced
Slide Butter
Slops Clothing Issue Store
Snorkers Sausages
Snorkers in fearnought Sausage rolls
Sods opera A show put on at sea by the ships company
Spin To tell or explain
Split-arse Wren
Spondoolies Money
Sprog (1) Child
Sprog (2) Someone who has only been in the Navy for a short time
Sports pages Saucy letter from a wife of girlfriend
Squeezing Suffering from a sexually transmitted disease
Stoker Marine engineering mechanic
Stand easy Tea break
Steaming bats Service issue non-slip work boots
Sub Stand in for duty
Sun dodger Submariner
Swamp Wet yourself or wet your bed
Tea & stickies Friendly non-alcoholic hospitality
Thin out Leave (the vicinity)
Three-badgeman Someone with 3 good conduct badges (12 years service) and usually has not advanced beyond Able Rate.
Tiff Artificer (engineering technician)
Tilly Minibus
Tot A measure of rum
Townie A shipmate from the same home town
Turn to Start work
Two's up Reserving position eg "two's up with that book"
Uckers A mess game. A variation of Ludo.
Upper scupper Upper deck
Wafu A member of the Fleet Air Arm
Wardroom The officers' mess
Watch on stop on Continuous duty without relief
Wet A drink
Winger (wings) A friend
Wing it Make it up as you go along
Woolly pully Service issue woollen pullover
Yonks A long time
Zeds Sleep

Reunion Dinner 2019