He Says, She Says


Over the weekend, a friend of mine copied me in on an email discussion. Her husband, a service member, was also on the email chain. His response to the subject being discussed was, “totally unsat.” I laughed. “Unsat” is such a military term. Although I do speak militarese after so many years of being subjected to it, there are times when I choose the civilian alternative.

For example:

I say, “Unacceptable.” He says, “Unsat.”

I say, “Give it all you’ve got.” He says, “Fire for effect.”

I say, “Dig deep.” He says, “Knock down the target.”

I say, “Let’s go.” He says, “Move out.”

I say, “Hey, buddy!” He says, “Hey, troop!”

I have my own military translation machine in the form of a soldier-husband! Share your “He Says, She Says” stories with us.

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • Haha love it! The one I always notice is when my husband says, “left” or “right” he really says, “port” or “starboard.” You’d think that after hearing him say it for the past five years I’d know the difference between the two, but I have no idea which is which. Usually he’ll end up just saying “left” or “right” with a roll of his eyes.

    • Port is four letters like left! That’s how I always remember it :)

      • Great thinking! Now maybe I’ll use it on him next time :) Thanks!

        • alexbaker

          also, a star has 5 points, right has 5 letters. six of one, half dozen of the other… just how i was taught.

    • nraddin

      Starboard is from the Old English stéorbord and is a combination of stéor, meaning “steer,” and bord , meaning “board.” the stearing board was always on the right side of the ship. Port is called that because Larboard was to easily confused for starboard, Larboard coming from the Old English laden, meaning ‘to load’ and bord as explained above. Because Larboard was the side you would port on, and it was easy to confuse with starboard it was changed to port.

      It really helped me to know where the words came from, something to help anchor it in my mind.

    • Curtis

      Here’s a hint about how to remember the difference…port has the the same number of letters as left :)

  • Andi

    As an aside, when I found the photo I used for the post, I so badly wanted to photoshop a sign which read, “vehicle” or “POV” for the guy to hold up…. :)

  • Reasa

    Hubby loves to use tracking and roger.

  • Wifey

    I say “bathroom,” he says, “head.”
    I say “cleaning day,” he says, “field day.” (field day, to me, is a fun day full of outdoor activities in the gym class of my youth).
    I say “candy,” he says “geedunk.”
    I say “info,” he says, “gouge.”

  • Christina

    I say “funeral” and he says “f-bomb.”
    I say “vacation request” he says “Leave Chit” – I told him to watch his language and then he spelled “chit” for me!
    There are many! As a Navy wife whose husband is a hospital corpsman, I’ve had to learn Navy lingo, medical lingo and at his current duty station on a Marine base, Marine lingo.
    You just have to get used to saying, “And that stands for…?” “And translated this means…?”

  • Hi, my name is Nth, and I am a jargonophile. My world has been filled with jargon of the technical and the geeky since I was a wee sprog, so one might say my linguistic filters were pre-calibrated to pick up the military/aviation lingo Sampson brought home. I often don’t even realize some choice bit of Navyspeak is coming out of my mouth until Sampson laughs at me or a civilian friend or relative just stares blankly.

  • Me – Him
    Bathroom = head
    hat = cover
    pants = trousers
    car/van/vehicle = POV
    grocery/department store = commissary/exchange
    note (of any kind) = chit
    …then we get into “alphabet soup”…which is what we call all those acronyms. *sigh* Some days I want a dictionary/encyclopedia to hand over to non-military friends so I don’t have to interpret everything for them.

    • and a “shirt” is a “blouse” if you are in the Marine corps.
      You know you realy have it when you tell some one over the phone your name is spelled:

      Michael – Charlie – Indio – …..

  • Manda

    I have admit I’ve taken to just saying the military terms just because I heard them so often. In our house I don’t call my husband by his first name or a nickname I call him by his last name…I swear he doesn’t answer to anything but his last name. It drives my MIL nuts that I do that. The one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet because we went from I level to O level is my husband’s right and left is the opposite of my right and left since he works on the jets now it’s flipped. So when he says right and I’m looking on my right it really means my left….that gets confusing.

  • I say unsat :) Mostly because it makes my husband roll his eyes at me. Neither of us really uses military jargon in every day talk, but I did just notice that a prescription I filled says, “Take with morning or evening chow.”

    • wifeunit

      I loved that!

    • Rick

      That’s funny!

  • Bridget

    I have two sons….I am AD CG, Hubby is AD Navy….while they were little it was ‘Upper Deck” instead of ‘Up Stairs’ / Deck instead of Floor / Cover instead of Hat / Secure the Door instead of Close the Door / Regs instead of Rules.
    Boys would complain saying THEY werent in the military.
    NOW….both are Submariners and when ever we are together WE ALL talk militaryese and their girlfriends just try to keep up. I have to remind my sons they dont talk like we do, and thei girlfriends are always asking for TRANSLATIONS!

  • It took a long time for me to understand that they were “ships” not “boats” and my kids still consider “going to the field” as “camping”!

  • I was in both Navy and Army JROTC in highschool (changed schools in 11th grade) so I have been around military jargon for a while but I have to say that my favorite is “shipmate” which I guess you aren’t supposed to say anymore, from what my husband says it’s now “seawarrior” which I think is a little strange even for the Navy. But back to my story :) my husband came back from our first depolyment and started calling me ‘shipmate’ or ‘shippy’ lol and I was just like ‘hold on a second, i’m NOT your shipmate” and his reply was “you are my shipmate in the sea of life” – ever since then I’ve loved that word the best, and we still use it in place of ‘baby or honey’ even though they can’t use it on the ship ;)

    • Rick

      Wow, If I substitute “baby” or “honey” for “shipmate” I have to wonder if I had a lot of guys attracted to me. I was called “shipmate” often. I must have been LOVED by my Commander.

  • Heather

    I am happy to say after almost 20 years in the Army, my husband leaves all his military jargon at work. lol He will say occasional acronym’s, but for the most part he knows not to talk to us like he talks to his soldiers. lol ;)