Looking for a copy of the OED - and some military slang to atone

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Nov 14 06:38:06 UTC 2002

> > So as not have this be solely a personal posting, I thought I would
> > mention some thing I read recently about military slang - being that
> > we seem to be on the eve of war.
> >
> > The 'daisy cutter' bomb which became so famous during the war in
> > Afghanistan, was coined such during it's use in the gulf war.
> That's not the case. Apart from the fragmentation bomb of WWI that
> was called a _daisy cutter,_ the term was applied to a very
> powerful conventional bomb during the Vietnam War. Even the specific
> use, referring to the BLU-82, is found well before the Gulf War--
> early 1980s at latest, but probably earlier; I don't have the cites
> on hand. But I think Barry Popik found an example in Fynes Moryson's
> _Itinerary_ of 1617; you could ask him.

The BLU-82 has been around since 1970. I don't know exactly when the term
"daisy cutter" was applied to it, but I would guess shortly after its

Technically, the term "daisy cutter" applies to the fuze assembly, a 38" rod
that detonates the bomb about a meter off the ground (hence the
name)--maximizing blast effect and minimizing crater (the fuze and bomb were
designed to clear helicopter landing zones in the Vietnamese jungle, but are
also very good at smashing up bunkers). The name "daisy cutter" transferred
from the fuze to the bomb itself.

RHHDAS has "daisy cutter" as a USAF bomb from 1966-67. This is probably a
reference to 10,000 lb M121 bombs, WWII leftovers, that were also used in
Vietnam to clear landing zones. The BLU-82 was invented to replace these as
supplies of the old bombs were used up.

BLU stands for Bomb, Live Unit.

I also recall a Saturday Night Live sketch from the mid-70s (the one that
asked the immortal question, "What If Napoleon Had B-52 At the Battle of
Waterloo," with John Belushi as Napoleon and Dan Ackroyd as a B-52
crewmember.) In the sketch, Ackroyd refers to, IIRC, air-to-surface missiles
as "daisy cutters."

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