West Point slang (1905)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Aug 21 07:46:48 UTC 2005

The US Military Academy Library has some great digitized materials on its
website, including four issues of the annual publication _The Howitzer_
(from 1897, 1905, 1910, and 1915):


Searchable page images are provided, and a full-text viewing option is
available for each page. This list of "West Point Slang" is from the 1905
edition. HDAS cites several entries (e.g., "B-acher"), though many others
are antedated by a similar list in the 1900 edition (e.g., the first known
cite for "B.S."). Let's hope the scanning continues at West Point...

_Howitzer_ (USMA), 1905, pp. 292-5

Published for the benefit of our struggling relatives and others who try
to read our letters.

A. B. -- Area Bird. One who promenades or who has promenaded on the area.
Analyt. -- Analytical Geometry.
Area -- Rectangle bounded by Academic Building, Barracks, Bath Rooms,
Boiler House and Guard House. A place whereon many good soles are made
hol(e)y and poor souls unholy.
B. A. -- Busted Aristocrat. One who once wore chevrons but has fallen
under the ban of the T. D.
Babe -- The youngest member of a class.
B-ache -- An explanation for a skin; also to work the voice overtime.
B-acher -- One who b-aches.
Beast -- An animal lacking intelligence, viz, a new cadet.
Beast Barracks -- Asylum for new cadets.
B-essy -- An adjective used to describe a person addicted to the use of
superfluous or flowery language.
Big Green B. S. -- Popular name for Williams' "Composition and Rhetoric."
B. J. -- Bold before June. Characteristic of plebes.
Blue Book -- Regulations concocted to keep the Corps on the straight and
Bone -- To study: to seek to corner the tenths. To seek and find as "to
bone up a skag."
Bone Gallery -- To play to the grandstand in order to make the ladies say
Bone Chevrons -- To seek the approbation of the T. D.
Bone Toast -- To obtain a place on an athletic team for the purpose of
appeasing hunger.
Bonoid -- One who scrambles for the tenths; a worker -- John Hammond.
Boodle -- Unauthorized feedables. Boodler's -- Place where boodle is
Bootlick -- To coddle; to favor specially. Potent factor in obtaining a make.
Brace -- To cause to assume an exaggerated military position. One of the
lost arts.
Brown -- The filthy weed.
B. S. -- British science: the English language. Superfluous talk.
Buck -- A private in the ranks.
Bugle -- To deadbeat reciting until the bugle sounds dismissal.
Bull -- Bull Durham Tobacco, also Tipton.
Bust -- To deprive of chevrons; to relegate one to the ranks.
Cadet Limits -- Limits of the reservation of the Government Incubator, to
which cadets are supposed to confine their footsteps.
Cadet Store -- A combine from which cadets are compelled to purchase
things necessary and unnecessary. Managed by King Mac and numerous
Calcule -- Calculus.
Cits -- Glad rags; civilian clothes; civilians.
Com. -- Commandant of cadets.
Cons -- Confinement to room; summary punishment awarded cadets for
offences either actual or fancied.
Cold Max -- Perfect; all that can be desired.
Cold Fess -- Dismal failure.
Corp. -- A cadet corporal. Military bootlick in its embryo state.
Crawl -- To correct.
Dad -- Patriarch of a class.
Dead Beat -- To avoid working. One who endeavors to avoid exertion in any
Detail -- A system employed by instructors in handing out mental gymnastic
stunts at recitations.
Dis. -- Discipline.
Div. -- One of the twelve divisions of barracks.
Drag -- To accompany; as, to drag a femme. To inhale; as, to drag on a
skag. To carry; as, to drag the mail.
D. T. -- Double time. A hobby of the T. D.
Ducrot -- Nom de plume for an object or person whose name is either
unknown or of no importance.
F. C. P. -- First class privileges.
Femme -- A member of the fair sex.
Fiend -- One who is very skillful or a past-master at anything.
Fiendish -- Clever, remarkable; also eminently O. K., as, a fiendish femme."
File -- A member of the sterner sex.
Flirtation -- Walk bordering on the noble Hudson. Spoonoids' Mecca.
Found -- Discharged for deficiency in studies or conduct.
Fume -- To smoke.
Gaff -- Synonym for golf.
Goat -- Ranking man in class, section, or other unit counting from the
bottom. Synonymous with the obsolete term " Immortal. "
Grind -- A story ; a joke ; an odd character.
Gross -- Assinine ; wooden ; stupid. Adjective applied to a Parlor
Growley -- Tomato Ketchup.
Hive -- To comprehend; also to discover ; as, "to hive boodle. "
Hopoid -- A disciple of Terpsichore.
Laundry Spike -- A femme employed in the laundry ; also a large pin.
Lights out -- A warning cry, signifying the approach of some high
muck-a-muck, upon hearing which all hands take to the woods; also used at
L. P. -- "One who steps on your toes at every hop and hops on your toes at
every step."
Little Green B. S. -- Abbot's "How to Write Clearly. "
Make -- One of the Corn's own; a wearer of chevrons.
Makings -- The material of a home-made skag.
Matby -- On familiar terms with mathematics.
Missouri National -- Whistling chorus guaranteed to produce rain.
Muck -- Muscle, strength.
O. C. -- Officer in charge; tactical officer on duty at guard house to see
that the sun rises in time for reveille and sets in time for retreat.
O. D. -- Officer of the Day; cadet detailed as Lord High Wielder of the
Official Quill.
O. G -- Officer of the Guard.
O. G. P. -- Old guard privileges -- a relic of bygone days.
Orderly -- Masculine French maid; cadet responsible for cleanliness of a
Phil -- Philosophy.
Plebe -- A Plebeian or fourth classman ; more to be censured than pitied.
P. M. E. -- Practical Military Engineering; a particular delight of
yearling camp.
Policed -- To get rid of; to eject from; also to cause to fall oft, as "
his horse policed him."
Poop Deck -- Balcony on the guard house used as a lookout towel by the O. C.
P. S. -- Post Spoonoid. One who attends five o'clocks for the purpose of
feeding his face.
Pipe -- A trance; a vacant far-awayness; also something extremely easy as,
"that exam was a pipe."
Pred. -- Predecessor.
Quill -- (Noun) Disciple of the skin book; (Verb) To endeavor to bone
bootlick in any form.
Quilloid -- One who quills.
Red B. S. -- Meiklejohn's "English Language."
Rep. -- Reputation.
Reverse -- Inverted bootlick.
Run it out -- To vamoose; to fly the coop; to absent one's self without
Run it on -- To impose upon; to give another the nub end of a deal.
Sammy -- The Right Reverend Doctor Samuel; Molasses; part of the table
d'hote banquets a la Mess Hall.
Sep -- A cadet who enters in September; a name frequently applied to those
who have the general characteristics of one.
Short -- Mean; having a warped disposition.
Skag -- Cigarette.
Skin -- (Noun) A report: (Verb) To report for violation of regulations.
Skin-list -- A daily record of heinous crimes.
Skinoid -- One who skins.
Slop -- To apply water colors.
Slum -- A Mess Hall stew; constituents in dispute.
Soiree -- A tedious performance; a tiresome ordeal at which attendance is
compulsory; an obsolete function for the education of plebes.
Sound Off -- A public talk; the giving of a command at drill; also a
command to talk or answer as, "Sound off, Mr. Ducrot."
Speck -- To commit to memory; one who commits to memory.
Speckoid (One who specks.
Spiel -- A line of talk.
Spoon -- To cavort with femmes.
Spoonoid -- One who spoons.
Step out -- To accelerate one's motion.
Supr -- Superintendent of the U. S. M. A.
Tac -- A tactical officer; Latter-day Saint; an example to be emulated by
Tar Bucket---A cadet dress hat.
T. D. -- Tactical Department.
Tenth -- One-thirtieth part of the maximum mark; worshiped as a god by the
Tenthoid -- A hard student; one who endeavors to take in as many tenths as
Tie-up -- To bungle; to make a failure of.
Trig -- Trigonometry.
Turn back -- A cadet who has been suspended or put back into a lower class.
Wooden -- Senseless, foolish, gross; said of one who ties up everything.
Yearling -- A third classman.

--Ben Zimmer

More information about the Ads-l mailing list