Semantic drift: "khaki"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Sep 17 13:38:42 UTC 2007

BDU = battle dress uniform, the "dress" refers simply to clothing, not fancy

I think by the late-70s, the khaki uniform was optional. It was being phased
out and no longer issued to soldiers, but it still could be worn by those
who possessed or purchased them. Sometime in the early 80s, the order came
down that it was no longer to be worn.

US Army uniforms are also often referred to by "class." The "Class A"
uniform is the green uniform with blouse (jacket) and tie. "Class B" is the
green uniform without blouse or tie--shirt only, sometimes a sweater. "Class
C" is the BDU. I don't know if this "class" nomenclature extended back into
the 70s, but if it did, the khaki uniform could be either Class A or B as
well. The dress blue uniform doesn't fall into this "class" system as,
except for ceremonial units in Washington, DC, it is not a regular duty

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Amy West
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2007 8:56 PM
Subject: Re: Semantic drift: "khaki"

My brother, who trained me to spit-shine, used to starch his fatigues
as a youngster. They were olive drab or camouflage. I think the only
khaki-coloring I saw in his uniforms were in his desert camies. We
never called his uniforms anything but "fatigues", less frequently
BDUs (basic duty uniform?). Again, this is late 1970s.

I have heard khakis refer to the style of pants also known as chinos:
for example, at one point at the museum job we were told to wear
khakis and a golf shirt as a uniform.

---Amy (Again, not a lot of help) West

>Date:    Sat, 15 Sep 2007 14:14:22 -0700
>From:    Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
>Subject: Re: Semantic drift: "khaki"
>IIRC, the US Army abandoned its tropical/summer khaki uniforms in the early
>1980s, leaving only the olive-drab uniform. I would suspect that if the
>meaning shifted it would be after this date, at least in American usage.
>During the 60s and 70s there was a true US Army khaki uniform, which would
>have been worn in tropical Vietnam. Perhaps Heinemann is referring to the
>true khaki uniform and this is being misinterpreted.

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list