Special Report

Popular Phrases That Originated in the Military

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16. “Over and out”

“Over and out” originated with ham radio operators, and simply meant “My transmission is over” and “I’m out.”

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17. “Roger that”

A phrase used to acknowledge that a message or order that has been received and understood comes from the phonetic alphabet used by both U.S. and British military personnel during World War II, when radio operators used easily understandable words to avoid confusion. “Roger” stands for “received.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

18. “Snafu”

This is an acronym that stands for “Situation Normal: All Fouled Up.” (There is also a blue-language version of the phrase.) The expression dates from World War II, when it was associated with foot soldiers resigned to dealing with a predicament they had no control over.

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19. “Stand down”

By its sound, “stand down” almost sounds like a contradiction in terms. It was originally a British phrase said to witnesses in court, meaning “leave the witness box,” and was adopted by the military to mean “come off duty” in 1916. The phrase was used by American GIs during the Vietnam War to describe going from the battlefield to a place of safety.

20. “The whole nine yards”

The origin of this phrase is murky, but it might be a reference to the fact that fabrics were often sold in nine-yard bolts, and a complete outfit might take the whole thing.

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