Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Military Idioms & Expressions that YOU Can Use

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Hey everyone. My name is Wes. This is interactive English,

which is all about helping you practice and improve your English skills and

today I want to teach you some useful expressions.

Specifically I want to talk to you about military and combat expressions and

these are expressions that I think at one time they were,

they were mostly used in that,

that setting just by people in the military,

but nowadays it's changed and Eh,

anybody might use these phrases and expressions and everyday conversation

depending on what they're talking about. So I'm going to do four things.

I'll teach you the expression, I'll tell you what it means.

I'll talk a little bit about how the expression came about and then tell you how

people might use it in conversation today.

The first expression that I have for you is boots on the ground.

Now this expression is probably still mostly used in in just a military context

because it's talking about troops that are on the ground,

engaged in some operation and you would say that that they are going to put

boots on the ground.

This is an expression that became a bit more popularized after the invasions of

Iraq and Afghanistan, and they talked about more troops being sent there,

more boots on the ground.

Another time you might hear this expression is from politicians when they're

talking about whether or not the military might be engaged in some operation and

they might have to send troops to a combat zone and put boots on the ground.

It may also be used to talk about the civilian police force at times that they

have to go out into the city for some reason or another and they're going to put

boots on the ground. There will be police in the area to combat something.

The next phrase is bite the bullet.

Now this is an expression that you might find more commonly used in everyday

English because what it means is to endure some sort of pain or discomfort.

You're going to suffer through something and basically you know that you're

going to do this and you would say, you know, I'm going to bite the bullet.

I am going to endear this pain. I'll bite the bullet. So for example,

maybe you lie to somebody,

it could be your husband or wife and something happens and you need to confess.

You need to tell them the truth even though you know that you're going to

experience some pain and heartache from this,

but in the end you're going to do it. You're going to bite the bullet.

This was a phrase that was used by soldiers during the American civil war,

but I think it can actually be traced back to a British army officer who wrote a

book and referred to an expression with a similar meaning. Chew the bullet.

But today if you know that you're going to endure some sort of pain or suffering

could be physical, it could be mental. You can just say,

I'm going to bite the bullet. Next is the phrase got your six.

So if somebody says got your six, then that just means that hey,

I have your back.

I'm watching your back and protecting you and making sure nobody's going to hurt

you. So the reason somebody would say got your six is because in the military,

people might often refer to a clock as to where something is located.

Something is in front of you at 12 o'clock maybe it's to this side,

three o'clock here's nine o'clock and then behind you would be six six o'clock

that's it. Back of you. So somebody would say, Hey, I got your back,

I got your six

I'm going to go up to six okay, showtime Mack, I got your six

I got your six this is an expression that you're not going to go out and use

unless you are in the military or law enforcement.

But it is an expression that you may hear if you're watching a TV show or movie

that has to do with the military and people will refer to the position and say,

Hey, something's at 12 o'clock something's at three o'clock or if you're talking

about protecting somebody and watching their back, they might say, got your six.

You may also hear somebody say, watch your six. Which is similar to saying,

watch your back. Especially if the enemies behind you, they could say,

watch your six.

The next expression is bought the farm and this is an expression where bought

wood would be used in the past tense and the reason it'd be used in the past

tense is because it's talking about a person who has died.

It's an informal way and saying, you know somebody, somebody bought the farm,

somebody died, somebody passed away.

Now we don't know exactly how this expression came about.

Some people think it has to do with with jet pilots during the 50s that when

they died the family would receive some money, some compensation,

and then they could buy the land. They would buy the farm.

Then we have an expression to catch flack and if you catch flack from someone,

it just means that you are being criticized,

harshly criticized by this person and we often use it with the preposition from

you catch flack from someone. So if you do something wrong at home,

you might catch flack from your husband or wife or if you do something wrong at

work, you might catch flack from your boss.

This is an expression that can be used by anyone.

If they are describing that situation that they are going to get criticized by

somebody else and then you could say, yeah,

you know I'm going to catch some flack, or if it already happened,

you could tell somebody, yeah, I caught a lot of flack for doing this thing.

So where does this expression come from? Well, during World War II,

flack was actually an acronym for the German air missile defense system,

which they called, and I'm probably going to mispronounce this,

the flieger [inaudible] if you're German, let me,

let me know how bad that pronunciation is,

but it's an acronym for Pfleger up Vercon and when pilots would would try to fly

over, they would catch fire from these systems.

They would catch flack and then over years and years,

the expression change to its current meaning today,

which is to get harshly criticized by someone to catch flack.

Then we have some acronyms and those acronyms are Fubar Snafu and tar Fu.

Now fubar is an acronym that stands for EFT up beyond all recognition.

The first time that I heard this expression,

I was watching the movie saving private Ryan.

Even if you think the mission is food busser,

what's the WHO book?

It's not a word that people might use in just their, their general life. I,

I'm not a military person so I don't know if this term is still used today,

but this is, if anything,

it's more for your comprehension because you may hear this when you're watching

a TV show or a movie such as the one that I just mentioned.

Now snafu stands for situation normal,

all f up that that something happened,

a normal situation and then it just really went completely to hell.

This is an expression that personally I have heard in other contexts that if

there was some situation that got screwed up and you tell somebody, yeah,

we hit a bit of a Snafu,

there was a problem and then we got through this problem,

you might hit a snafu.

Oh, good work people. Little Snafu were taken care of.

There was a snafu in when we stopped combat bed and breakfast and Napa,

high knees, smile food. I've already given the money to the contractor. Sorry,

but the security snafu that was on you and

Tofu is an acronym. Things are really EFT up. So if you're,

you're describing this situation and things are really EFT up,

you could just say tar Fu. This is an expression that,

to be honest, I haven't heard it in a, in a movie or a TV show.

I'm not in the military, so I,

I can't really say how common these expressions are used today,

but it's good to know these acronyms for your comprehension and in case you hear


Fubar Snafu Tartu the next phrase is in the trenches and this just means that

you are, you're in a tough fight. You are in the midst of things. You,

you are in the trenches and this expression, of course it applies to war, but,

but people may also use it in other contexts as well, that,

that they're in a fight, they're down in the trenches.

Perhaps maybe in a sports competition that you are,

you're in the middle of this fight.

You're down in the trenches or maybe in business.

If you feel like you're in the middle of this fight, you're stuck.

You've got to keep fighting through.

You could say that you know you're in the trenches.

This expression comes from soldiers trying to protect themselves when they were

taking fire from the enemy, so during a war like world war one,

they would dig trenches.

They would dig these trenches in the ground and when the enemy would fire,

they'd get in the trenches, try to protect themselves. It was a tough situation,

but it was a way for them to survive, to keep fighting.

They were in the trenches. Next we have the expression,

no man's land and what this expression means, it's,

it's just a a dangerous area that are maybe a topic that that can't be

discussed. No Man's land and where this expression comes from.

It's talking about the area between two opposing armies and that area.

When people would dig those trenches and they were, they were stuck there.

They were fighting that area in between those two armies that was no man's land.

Nobody would go in that area. That is a very dangerous place to be.

No Man's land. Then we have the expression nuclear option.

Now this is an expression that's used today in us politics and what it means is

that you are just going to destroy everything and instead of having a debate,

so just a quick little civics lesson in the United States Senate,

this is where they would debate legislation,

but if one party has control and they don't want to debate,

they may opt for a nuclear option,

which means they're not going to allow a debate.

They're just going to destroy everything and do what they want.

This expression refers to nuclear warfare.

A nuclear bomb went in the military when people might discuss a nuclear option,

they're talking about dropping a nuclear bomb, which would destroy everything,

but nowadays if you hear this term [inaudible],

then you're probably watching something or reading something about us. Politics.

Next is the expression on the double and if somebody says on the double,

it just means to to do something quickly, pretty much,

double twice as quickly as you would normally do it.

And this is an expression that that people could use in their daily lives.

If they're asking somebody to do something quickly,

they might tell them on the double

getting back up here on the double [inaudible].

Well blast it all gyms, tips the double man. Yes, I wrote right away. So

yeah, up and get out there on the double.

So in the military, if you wanted somebody to move twice the pace,

twice to speed, they might say to do it double time.

And if you're talking about a task and you want them to get this task done,

that's when they would say on the double. When I think of this expression,

I think of people that that used to be in the military and they take some of

these terms and phrases with them. For example,

my grandfather who was in the military,

I would hear him use this from time to time and he'd say that that something

needs to be done on the double.

Then we have the expression on the front lines and if somebody is on the front


it means that this person is really at the forefront of a battle and argument or

maybe even some movement that they are out there.

They are leading the charge and you could say that they are on the front line.

If talking about the military then I, I think it's self explanatory that if,

if there is a battle, if there is a fight and you are right in the middle of it,

if you are out front than you'd say you are on the front lines.

So this is an expression that may be used outside of discussing the military for

example. Maybe there's a movement,

there's a cause you really believe in it and you're out there trying to lead the

way, trying to create change.

You could say that that you are on the front lines of this issue.

The next expression,

and I think this is a very well known one and that is just Roger that and if

somebody says Roger that it just means yes. And when I think of this expression,

I think about two people communicating over the radio or maybe they're using

walkie talkies and that somebody is telling somebody to do something and instead

of saying yes, you just say Roger,

that you may hear this expression just in general,

especially somebody's giving a command and telling you to do something.

Is that Okay Roger, that? Yes, yes, I'll do that.

So where does this expression come from? Well,

in the old NATO phonetic alphabet,

the letter r was pronounced as Rodger.

So if a message was properly received,

they would confirm that by saying Roger,

over time it evolved to the meaning of Yes.

Nowadays in the NATO phonetic alphabet,

they used the word Romeo in place of the letter r.

But Roger is still used to say that a message has been received.

But this is a phrase that I think you may hear in a TV show or movie and it's

good for your comprehension. So if somebody says Roger that,

then it just means yes.

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Now, my last question for you is, did you understand these expressions?

And if you did, let me know in the comments and just right Roger that.

So if you write that in the comments,

then I know that the lesson was easy to understand and follow.

Thank you guys so much for watching.

I hope you learn something new and I'll see you next time.

The Description of Military Idioms & Expressions that YOU Can Use