French Military Terms & Soldier Slang

Slang post card


The following is a list of French military terms and soldier slang in use during the Great War. An entire dialect of its own developed in the army during the course of the war. Soldier slang emerged in response to the men's need to adapt to an utterly foreign experience. To do so, a new language was needed to describe and quantify their new world. This military jargon was derived from various sources. Some were already in use in French popular culture or in the professional military. Others are borrowed from local French patois or from its various foreign colonies (e.g. African, Arab and South-East Asian languages). Still others are simply abbreviations or acronyms. Please read the Disclaimer at the bottom of this page before reviewing the terms list.


How to read this page:

  • Formal Term in English (Direct Translation in English)   =   French Term
          Slang Term in English   =   French Slang Term

    An asterisk (*) indicates the most common slang term.

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    Personnel


    French Soldiers, NCOs and Officers: By Rank
  • Private   =   le Soldat
          Bottom Ranker   =   le Griveton, Pitou, Troubade, or Trouffion
  • Private Second-Class   =   le Soldat de Deuxième Classe
          Dearie   =   le Bibi
          Fifer   =   le Fiflot
  • Private First-Class   =   le Soldat de Première Classe
          Private First-Class   =   le Premier Bibi
          First Duck   =   le Premier Canard
          First Juice   =   le Premier Jus
  • Corporal   =   le Caporal
          Lard   =   le Saindoux
          Mutt   =   le Cabot
          Macaroni-Mutt   =   le Cabot-Macaroni
          Spud-Mutt   =   le Cabot-Patate
          Ragout-Mutt   =   le Cabot-Rata
  • Lance-Corporal (Quarter-Master Corporal)   =   le Caporal Fourrier
          Lance-Mutt (Quarter-Mutt)   =   le Cab-Four.
  • Sergeant   =   le Sergent
          Foot or Bench-Foot   =   le Pied or Pied-de-Banc
  • Quarter-Master Sergeant   =   le Sergent-Fourrier
          Drum (QM Sgt.)   =   le Tambour
          Line Pack (QM Sgt.)   =   le Sac à Ligne
  • Sergeant-Major   =   le Sergent-Major
          Chief   =   le Chef
          Double or Doubler   =   le Double or Doublard
  • Adjutant   =   l'Adjudant
          Adjufart   =   l'Adjupète
          Low-Off. [NCO]   =   le Bas-Off.
          Juicey   =   le Juteux
  • Junior Officer (Aspiring)   =   l'Aspirant
          Aspi'   =   l'Aspi'
  • Second-Lieutenant   =   Le Sous-Lieutenant
          Second-Lieut'   =   le Sous-Lieut'
  • Lieutenant   =   Le Lieutenant
          Lieut'   =   le Lieut'
  • Captain   =   Le Capitaine
          Capt'   =   [Mon] Capi'
          Capster   =   [Mon] Capiston or 'Piston
          'Ptan   =   [Mon] 'Pitaine
  • Major (or Battalion Leader)   =   Le Commandant (or Chef de Battalion)
  • Colonel   =   Le Colonel
          Crn'l   =   [Mon] Colo' or Colon'


    French Soldiers: By Type
  • French soldier   =   le Soldat Français
          Young Soldier [used in 1914]   =   le Pioupiou*
          Hairy or Scruffy [used after 1914]   =   le Poilu*
          French Soldier   =   le Pitou
  • Artillerist   =   l'Artilleur
          Artyman [pejorative]   =   l'Artiflot*
          Gunner (Canoner)   =   l'Arroseur
  • Chasseur (Hunter) [light infantry/cavalry]   =   le Chasseur [à Pied/Cheval]
          Hunty   =   le Chassebi or Chasse-bite
  • Alpine Chasseur   =   le Chasseur Alpin
          Alpine   =   l'Alpin*
          Blue Devil   =   le Diable Bleu
  • Bomber   =   le Bombadier
          Toadyman   =   le Crapouilloteur
          Torpidoer   =   le Torpilleur
  • Cobbler   =   le Cordonnier
          Cobbler   =   le Gnaf
  • Corpsman or Nurse   =   l'Infirmier
  • Cuirassier (Armored)   =   le Cuirassier
          Big-Brother   =   le Gros-Frère
  • Disciplinary (Soldier in a discipline company)   =   le Disciplinaire
          Merryman   =   le Joyeux*
  • Doctor   =   le Médecin
          Doc   =   le Toubib
  • Doctor's Assistant. Medical Assistant.   =   le Médecin auxiliare
          Medassit   =   le Médauxe
  • Engineer   =   le Génie
          Wire-cutterman   =   le Cisailleur
  • Foot-Soldier   =  le Fantassin
          Bean [Volunteer soldier]   =   le Fayot
          Bobump   =   le Bobosse*
          Fifer   =   le Fiflot
          Foot Soldier   =   le Fantabosse*
          Ragpicker, rag-and-bone man   =  le Biffin
          Liner, lineman   =   le Lignard
          Messmate   =  le Bidasse*
  • Military Policeman   =   le Gendarmes
          Cop   =   le Flic
          Cop   =   le Pandore
  • Grenadier   =  le Grenadier
  • Logistics Marshal   =   le Maréchal des Logis.
          Logistics   =   le Logis
          Marshy   =   le Marchis
          Marshy   =   le Margi
  • Machine-Gunner   =   le Mitrailleur
          Machine-Gunner   =   le Mitraillou
  • Military Policeman   =   le Gendarme
          Cop   =   le Flic*
          Pandora   =   le Pandore
  • New Soldier, Rookie   =   le Nouveau
          Blue or Bluey   =   le Bleu* or Bleuet*
          Bluey [perjorative, e.g. F.N.G.]   =   la Bleusaille*
          Yellow Straps   =   le Curroies Jaunes
          Marie-Louise   =   Marie-Louise
            (Name given to the young war-time classes of 1915-18.)
  • Nurse [female]   =   l'Infirmière
          Sis'   =   la Frangine
  • Quarter-Master Staffer   =   l'Intendance
          Admin'   =   le Stration
          Rice-Bread-Salt   =   le Riz-pain-sel
  • Rifleman   =   le Fusillier
  • Runner   =   le Courreur
  • Sapper, Engineer   =   le Sapeur
  • Scout or Trail-Blazer   =   l'Éclaireur [Soldat]
  • Sniper (Ducker)   =   le Canardeur
      Parrot   =   le Perroquet
      Squirrel   =   le Écureuil
  • Tailor   =   le Tailleur
          Regimental Tailor (Flea-Picker)   =   le Pique-Pouces
  • Territorial   =   le Territorial
          Old Soldier (Gramps, Gran'pa)   =   le Pépère*
          R.A.T. [Territorial Army Reservist]   =   le R.A.T. [Réserve de l'Armée Territoriale]
          'Torrial   =   le Torrial
  • Veteran   =   l'Ancien [Soldat]
          Chevroned   =   le Chevronée
          Striper or Stripes   =   le Briscard* or Brisque
          Old String   =   la Vielle Ficelle
  • Wounded   =   le Blessé*
          Banged Up   =   l'Amoché
  • Slightly wounded, sitting case (Sitter)   =   l'Assis
  • Slightly wounded   =   Le Petit Blessé*
  • Severely wounded, stretcher case (Lay-Down)   =   le Couché
  • Zouave   =   le Zouave
          Jackal   =   le Chacal
          Zouzou   =   le Zouzou*
  • Young Soldier   =   le Jeune
          Youngster   =   le Jeunot
          Kiddie   =   le Gosse


    French Officers and NCOs: By Type
  • Officer   =   l'Officier
          Off.   =   l'Off.
          Officer   =   le Officemar
  • Non-Commissioned Officer   =   le Sous-Officier or Gradé
          Non-Com or NCO   =   le Sous-Off.*
  • General Staff   =   l'État-Major
          Top Commanders (Big Chiefs)   =   le Grands Chefs*
          Big Vegetables   =   les Grosses Légumes
          Top Brass (Oils -- as in "squeaky clean")   =   les Huiles
  • Commader-in-Chief (Generalissimo)   =   le Généralissime
  • Chief, leader, commander [NCO or officer]   =   le Chef*



    French Foreign Soldiers:
    (Note: Some terms appearing below are deragotory in nature.)
  • Arab soldier   =   l'Arabe
          Arbi'[trator]   =   l'Arbi or Arbicot
  • Colonial soldier   =   le Colonial
          Porpoise   =   le Marsouin*
  • Moroccan soldier   =   le Morcain
          Af' Bat'   =   le Bat' d'Af' [i.e. Battalion d'Afrique]*
          Bataillonnaire   =   le Bataillonnaire
          Blather-speaker   =   le Babakoute
          Chocolate   =   le Chocolat*
  • Senegalese soldier [tirailleur]   =   le Sénégalais
          Bambooer   =   le Bamboula
          Black   =   le Diable Noir
          Black   =   le Noir*
          Blather-speaker   =   le Babakoute
          Chocolate   =   le Chocolat*
  • Tirailleur (Marksmen) [Algerian or Morocan]   =   le Tirailleur
          [Arbi]'rator   =   le Bicot [also see 'Arab' above]
          Tirailleur   =   l'Eloussoque
  • Zouave   =   le Zouave
          Zouzou   =   le Zouzou*
          Jackal   =   le Chacal


    French Soldiers: By Assignment
  • Cook   =   le Cuisinier
          Cooky   =   le Cuistot*
  • Listening-post man (Listener)   =   l'Écouteur
  • Look-out (Watcher)   =   le Guetteur
  • Ration Party-Man   =   le Ravitailleur
          Soup-Man or Cooky   =   l'Homme-Soupe or Cuistot*
  • Runner   =   le Courreur
  • Scout [or look-out]   =   l'Éclaireur
          Boy-Scout   =   le Boy-Scout
          Curious   =   le Curieux
  • Sentinel   =   le Sentinelle
  • Sniper (Ducker)   =   le Canardeur
  • Stretcher-bearer   =   le Brancardier
  • Trench Cleaner   =   le Nettoyeur de Tranchée
          Whacker / Killer   =   le Zigouilleur


    Friends and Acquaintances:
  • Comrade   =   le Camarade
          Comro   =   le Camaro
  • Close Friend   =   le Copain
  • Guy   =   le Mec
  • Pal or Buddy (Old Fella)   =   [Mon] Vieux*
  • Mate (Post)   =   [Mon] Poteau, Pote*


    Pejoratives:
  • Bad soldier   =   le Péteux
  • Blockhead   =   le Ballot
  • Coward   =   le Flanchard
  • Coward (Jitterer)   =   le Froussard
  • Coward   =   le Poltron or Capon
  • Dimwitted soldier   =   le Haricot
  • Flea-brain   =   le Moule
  • Idiot (Gourd)   =   la Gourde
  • Imbecile   =   le Falourde
  • Looney, Nut-job   =   le Loufoque or Louf'
  • Looney, Weirdo.   =   le Dingot
  • Malingerer, lazybones   =   le Flemmard, Paressux
  • Marauder (Contrabander)   =   le Fricoteur
  • Marauder (Forager)   =   le Fourrageur
  • Pig   =   le Cochon*
  • Scoundrel   =   le Fanfaron
  • Shirker (Unplucky)   =   l'Épilé
  • Shirker   =   l'Embusqué*
  • Soft-Jobber or Poge (Dug-in)   =   le Planqué*
  • Those or Those Rear Guys   =   Ceux or Ceusse de l'arrière
          All rear service personnel.



    Other Nationalities:
  • American soldier   =   l'Américain
          Sammy [i.e. Uncle Sam]   =   le Sammy
          Yank   =   'Ricain
  • Indian soldier   =   l'Indien
          Sepoy   =   le Cipaye
  • English/British soldier   =   l'Anglais/Britannique
          Tommy   =   le Tommy
          Khaki   =   le Kaki
  • German soldier   =   l'Allemand
          Hun   =   le Boche* or Bochie
          Prussian   =   Prussco
          Fritz   =   Fritz
          Frederick   =   Friedrick
          Michael   =   Michel
  • Italian soldier   =   l'Italien
          Macaroni   =   le Macaroni
  • Turkish soldier   =   le Turc
          Ali-Baba   =   Bachi-Bouzouck
  • Russian soldier   =   le Russe
          Nicholas   =   Nicolas


    Civilians:
  • Civilian   =   le/la Civil(e)
          Civie   =   le/la Civi', Ciblot or Civelot/e
  • Chaplain (Almsman)   =   l'Aumonier
  • Catholic Priest (Curer)   =   le Curé
  • Female Sponsor [Godmother or Pen-pal]   =   la Marainne [de Guerre]



    Miscellaneous:
  • Clever, ostentatious man   =   le Mariole
  • Cunning, brave, determined man (rabbit)   =   le Lapin
  • Front-line soldiers ("Poor Assholes of the Front")   =   les Pauvres Cons du Front, or le P.C.D.F.*
  • Good shot   =   le Bon Tireur
  • Good shot (Parrot)   =   le Perroquet
  • Pipe-smoker   =   le Quenaupier
  • Pipe-smoker (Puffer)   =   la Bouffarde
  • P.O.W. [Prisoner of War]   =   P. G. [Prisonnier de Guerre]
  • Resourceful man [clever, enterprising] (Slog Througher)   =   le Débrouillard
          Resourceful Man (De-shitter)     =   le Demerdar/Demerdeur
          Resourceful Man (De-shitter)   =   le Emmerdeur
  • Resourceful man who "finds" extra goods (Extraman)   =   le Rabioteur
  • Tall man (Sky-Scraper)   =   le Gratte-ciel
  • Tall man (Double-Meter)   =   le Double-mètre



    Uniform and Equipment


  • Assault Roll   =   le Rouleau du Assaut
  • Blanket   =   la Couverture
          Throw   =   le Berlue
          Cover   =   le Couverte
  • Boots   =   les Bottes
          Golashes   =   les Godasses*
          Clod-Hoppers   =   les Godillots*
          Clod-Hoppers   =   les Grolles
  • Candle   =   la Bougie
          Candle   =   la Calebombe
  • Canteen   =   le Bidon
          Belly   =   le Ventre
  • Cartridge Pouches   =   les Cartouchières
  • Cup   =   le Quart
  • Gas Mask   =   le Masque de Gaz
          Pig-Snout, Pig-Snoot   =   le Groin de Cochon , Museau de Cochon
  • Gear or Kit   =   le Barda
          Bazaar   =   le Bazar
  • Greatcoat   =   la Capote
  • Haversack   =   la Musette
  • Helmet   =   le Casque
          Bell   =   la Cloche*
  • Jacket / Blouse [enlisted]   =   la Veste / Vareuse
  • Knapsack or Pack   =   l'Havresac or le Sac
          Fido   =   Azor
          Ace [of Diamonds]   =   l'As [de Carreau]
          Wardrobe   =   l'Armoire
  • Kepi   =   le Képi
          Kepi   =   le Kébour
          Kepi   =   le Képroc
          Kepi   =   le Képlard
  • Lantern   =   la Laterne
          Dim   =   le Falot*
  • Leathers   =   les Cuirs
          Jumble (Bazarre)   =   le Bazar
  • Leg Wraps   =   les Bandes Molltières
  • Matches   =   les Allumettes
          Ailers   =   les Souffrantes
  • Mess-tin   =   la Gamelle
          Trough   =   l'Auge
          Trough   =   le Galtose or Galetouse *
  • Pants   =   les Pantalons
          Pants   =   le Falzar
          Splits   =   le Fendard
  • Pick   =   le Pic
  • Pick-axe   =   la Pioche
  • Pipe   =   la Pipe
          Puffer   =   la Bouffarde*
          Pipe   =   la Quenaupe*
  • Police Bonnet [Garrison Cap]   =   la Bonnet de Police
          Cap   =   le Calot
  • Sand-Bag   =   le Sac à Terre
  • Sheep-skin   =   le Peau de Mutton
          Cope   =   la Chape
  • Shovel   =   la Pelle
  • Spade-shovel   =   la Pelle-bêche
  • Stripe   =   le Gallon
          Sardine   =   la Sardine
          Stripe   =   le Brisque*
  • Tent Canvas   =   la Toile de Tente
  • Tunic [NCO and officer]   =   la Tunique
  • Stew-pot, ("Lil' Bottle," Kettle)   =   Marmite (Bouteillon)
  • Wire-cutters / Clippers   =   la Coupe-fil / les Cisailles



    Weapons and Munitions


  • Airplane   =   l'Aéroplane
          Plane   =   l'Aéro
  • Ambulance   =   l'Ambulance
          Ocean-liner   =   le Paquebot
  • Bayonet   =   la Baïonette
          Boche-Screw   =   le Tire-Boche
          Fork   =   la Fourchette
          Toothpick   =   le Cure-Dent*
  • Bullet   =   la Balle
          Bee   =   l'Abeille*
          Coo-Coo   =   le Coucou
          Bitter-Pill   =   le Dragée
          Sparrow   =   le Moineau
          Bird   =   l'Oiseau*
          Chestnut   =   le Marron
          Coo-Coo   =   le Coucou
          Pill   =   le Pilule
          Prune   =   le Pruneau*
  • Canon   =   le Canon
          Brute   =   le Brutal
  • Cartridge or Round   =   le Cartouche
  • Dirigible   =   le Dirigeable
  • Flame-thrower   =   le Lance-flammes / Liquides enflammées
          Flame-thrower man   =   le Fuséen, fuséard
  • Flare   =   la Fusée [Éclairante]
          Candle   =   la Chandelle*
          Monk   =   le Moine
  • Gas   =   la Gaz
          Smellies [gas, gas shells]   =   les Puants
  • Grenade / Bomb   =   la Grenade / Bombe
          Ball   =   le Boulette

          Shindig   =   le Nouba

  • German Grenades:
          Toad [Disk Grenade]   =   le Crapaud
          Turtle [Disk Grenade]   =   la Tortue
          Watch [Disk Grenade]   =   le Montre
          Guitar   =   la Guitare
  • Horse   =   le Cheval
          Packer   =   le Bourrin
  • Machine-Gun   =   la Mitrailleuse
          Coffee Grinder   =   le Moulin à Café*
          Pepper Grinder   =   le Moulin à Poivre
          [Un]sewing Machine   =   le Machine à Découdre*
          Rattle   =   le Crécelle
  • Mortar   =   le Mortier
          Toad or Toady [French Mortar]   =   le Crapaud or Crapouillot*
  • Mine-thrower [German Mortar]   =   le Minnen[werfer]*
  • Mortar Round ("[Aerial] Torpedo")   =   (la Torpille [Aérienne])
          Toady [French]   =   Le Crapouillot*
  • German Mortar Round (Mine)   =   le Minnen
          Sausage   =   le Saucisse*
          Suitcase, Baggage   =   la Valise
  • Observation Balloon   =   le Ballon
          Observation Balloon (Saussage)   =   le Saucisse
  • Pistol   =   le Pistolet
          Shooter   =   le Flingue
  • Revolver   =   le Revolver
          Kidder   =   le Rigolo
  • Rifle   =   le Fusil
          Shooter   =   le Flingue or Flingot
          Gun   =   le Nugat or Nougat
          Sling-shot   =   le Lance-pierres
          Needle   =   le Seringue
          Crossbow   =   le Arbalète
          Needle   =   le Seringue
    Stripper clip   =   le Chargeur
  • Trench Knife   =   le Couteau de Tranchée
          Ling [long, spear-like fish]   =   le Lingue
  • Zeppelin   =   le Zeppelin
          Cigar   =   le Cigare
  • 75 mm Canon   =   le Soixante-Quinze
          Little French or French   =   le Petit français or Français
          Reaper   =   le Faucheur
          Reaper   =   Arthur

    Artillery Shells:
  • Shell   =   l'Obus
            Ball   =   le Boulet or Boulot
            Bird   =   l'Oiseau*
            Bomb   =   la Bombe*
            Cigar   =   le Cigare
            Coo-Coo [bird]   =   le Coucou
            Sparrow   =   le Moineau
            Ration Can (Monkey Can)   =   le Boîte de singe

  • [Shell] Fragment   =   l'Éclat [d'Obus]
          Bon Bon   =   le Dragée
          Praline   =   la Praline
          Prune   =   le Pruneau*

    Light Shells:
          Distribution [French 75 mm]   =   le Distribution
          Meow [German 77 mm -- sound of the burst]   =   le Miaule or Miaulant
          Whiz-Bang (Zim-Boom) [German 77 mm]   =   le Zim-Boum
          Pipe [120 mm]   =   la Pipe

    Heavy Shells:
          Heavy Shell   =   le Gros [Obus]*
          Big Bomb   =   le Macavoué
          Stew-pot   =   le Marmite*
          Big Black [150 mm]   =   le Gros Noir
          Quarter-Master [210 mm]   =   l'Intendance
          Metro [210 mm]   =   le Métro
          Charles Humbert [280 mm]   =   le Charles Humbert
          Furlough Train [305 mm]   =   le Train de Permissionnaire
  • Shrapnel [shell]   =   le Shrapnel
          Rocket (Fuse)   =   le Fusant
          Shrapnel   =   le Crapenel
  • Shrapnel Balls   =   le Shrapnel
          Bees   =   les Abeilles
          Honey Bees   =   les Mouches à miel
          Prunes   =   les Pruneaux*



    Food and Drink


  • Bread   =   le Pain
          Hunk [of Bread]   =   le Bricheton
  • Canned Meat [Corned Beef]   =   le Boîte de Viande
          Monkey   =   le Singe
  • Cheese   =   le Fromage
          Cheesey   =   le Fromgi
          Cheesey   =   le Frometon
  • Cigarette   =   la Cigarette
          Fag   =   la Cibiche
  • Coffee   =   le Café
          Juice   =   le Jus*
  • Hardtack or War Bread   =   le Biscuit or Pain de Guerre
  • Food   =   la Nourriture
          Grub   =   la Becquetance
  • Liquor (Spirits)   =   l'Eau de Vie
          Booze   =   le Gniôle* or le Gnôle*
          Crank   =   le Cric*
          Chest-Breaker   =   le Casse-Pointrine
          Face-Breaker   =   le Casse-Gueule
          Leg-Breaker   =   le Casse-Pattes
  • Meat   =   la Viande
          Rationed meat   =   le Bidoche
          Rationed meat   =   le Barbaque
          Rationed meat   =   le Autobus
  • Rations   =   les Vivres
          Distrib[ution]   =   la Distrib'
  • Rice   =   le Riz
          Paste   =   le Colle
          Fib   =   le Mesonge
  • Daily Rations   =   les Vivres de Jour
  • Reserve Rations   =   les Vivres de Réserve
  • Tobacco   =   le Tabac
          Good Tobacco   =   le Fin*
          Ration Tobacco   =   le Perlot*
          Hay   =   le Foin
  • RationTobacco [in paper cubes] (Big 'Q')   =   le Gros Q
          Bottom Ass   =   le Gros Cul
  • Water   =   l'Eau
          Drink   =   la Flotte*
  • Wine   =   le Vin
          Wine (Plonk)   =   le Pinard*
          Wine   =   le Aramon
          Electric   =   l'Électrique
          Spiked or laced wine (Little Blue)   =   le Petit Bleu
          Spiked or laced wine   =   le Agnol
          Liter of wine [i.e. ration of wine]   =   le Kilo or Kile



    Battlefield Features


  • Barbed Wire or Wire   =   le Fil de Fer or Barbelés
  • Barracks   =   le Caserne
  • Billets, billeting   =   le Cantonnement
  • Bunker   =   l'Abri
          Dugout   =   la Cagna, Cagnat
  • Corpse   =   le Cadavre
          Stiff   =   le Macchabée or Macchab'
  • Fascine, faggot   =   la Fascine
  • Field Kitchen   =   la Cuisine
          Chow Spot   =   la Popote
          Grub Spot, Grub   =   la Croûte
  • [Mobile] Field Kitchen   =   la Cuisine Roulante
          Roller   =   la Roulante
          Torpedo-hunter ship  =   Contre-Torpilleur
  • Flea/Louse   =   la Puce
          Flea   =   le Gau or Got
          Louse   =   le Toto
  • First-Aid Post   =   le Poste de Secours
  • Fox-Hole   =   le Trou de Loup
  • The Front   =   le Front
  • Gabion   =   le Gabion
  • Good post, assignment or position. To have luck.   =   le Filon
  • Hosptial   =   l'Hôpital
          Hosptial   =   l'Hosteau
  • Mud   =   la Boue
          Gunk   =   la Mouise
          Lather   =   la Mouscaille
          Muck   =   la Bouillasse
  • Nook, corner   =   le Coinsteau
  • Prison   =   la Prison
          Brig (Can)   =   le Boîte
          Brig   =   le Lazaro
  • Rat   =   le Rat
          Waster   =   le Gaspard
  • The Rear   =   L'Arrière
  • Shell-Hole(s)   =   le Trou(s) d'Obus
  • Large Shell-Hole   =   l'Etonnoir
  • Strong-Point   =   le Point d'Appui
  • Wattle, Wattling   =   le Claie, Clayonnage
  • Wire-Entanglements   =   le Réseau
  • Wooden cross (e.g. grave)   =   le Croix de Bois

    Field Works:
  • Blockhouse, pillbox   =   le Blochaus
  • Communication trench (Intestine)   =   le Blochaus
  • Sap (i.e. forward trench dug out from the first-line trench)   =   la Sape
  • Sap Head (i.e. most advanced part of the sap)   =   la Tête de sape
  • Sausage: Short, connecting comm. trench   =   le Boudin
  • Bean: Short, circular or bean-shaped trench  =   le Haricot
  • Listening Post   =   le Poste d'Écoute or l'Écoute
          Small Post   =   le Petit Poste
  • Loophole   =   le Créneau
  • Machine-Gun Nest   =   le Nid de Mitrailleuse
  • Shelter, Dugout   =   l'Abri
          Hovel   =   le Gourbi
          Shanty   =   Guitoune
  • Trench   =   la Tranchée
  • Wire-Entanglements   =   les Réseaux



    Military Terms and Expressions


  • Ambush   =   l'Embuscade or l'Embûche
  • Alarm! To arms!  =   Alerte!, Aux Armes!
  • [The] Army   =   l'Armée
          The Big Silent [Film]   =   la Grande Muette
  • Artillery   =   l'Artillerie
  • Heavy Artillery   =   l'Artillerie Gros
          Loud-Mouth   =   la Guelarde
  • Attention!   =   Fixe!
  • Attention!   =   Garde à vous!
  • Battle, combat   =   la Bataille
          [the] Danse   =   la Danse
  • The Blues (the Roach)   =   le Cafard
  • To be blue (To have the roach)   =   Avoir le cafard.
  • Danger   =   Ca gaze, ça barde, or ça murmure
  • Eyes front   =   Fixe
  • X, fall out.   =   X, sortez des rangs.
  • Forbidden to pass by day.   =   Défendu de passer le jour.
  • Head-Quarters, HQ   =   [Grand] Quartier Général, [G]QG
  • Kit up!   =   En tenue!
  • Gunfire, bombardment, fire   =   le Mitraille
          Rain   =   la Pluie
  • Music [Gunfire, bombardment]   =   la Musique
  • It's hot! [i.e. lively combat]   =   Ça chauffe!
  • It's forbidden, prohibited.  =   C'est défendu.
  • Lie down.   =   Couchez-vous.
  • Lights prohibited.   =   Défense d'allumer.
  • No talking. No smoking.   =   Pas de parler. Pas de fumer.
  • Packs on!   =   Sac au dos!
  • Pack up (make your packs)   =   Faites vos sacs.
  • Put out all lights.   =   Éteignez tous les feux
  • Put out your lights.   =   Éteignez vos lumières or vos phares
  • Incoming [shell]   =   l'Arrivé
  • Outgoing [shell]   =   le Départ
  • Infantry   =   l'Infanterie
          Infantry   =   la Biffe*
          The Infants   =   les Enfants*
  • Kaput [Done for]   =   Capout
  • Morning Breakfast   =   P.D.D.M. (Petit Déjeuner Du Matin)
          i.e. coffee or wine before breakfast
  • Paris   =   la Panam[e]
  • Raid   =   le Coup de Main
  • Shirker's Post or Shelter   =   Embuscade
  • Stand-to   =   Aux armes
  • To arms! Arm yourselves!   =   Aux armes!
  • The doc has made me 'ex'. (i.e. not fit for service)   =   Le toubib m'a mis ex.
  • To be hit   =   Prendre une dragée or Être touché
  • To be hit, done for   =   Être fadé
  • To be on high-alert.   =   Être en le "qui-vive".
  • To beat, to give/get a beating (to screw)   =   Ficher
  • To fight   =   Danser
  • To get wasted (to get slammed)   =   Claquer
  • To go into combat   =   Aller au feu
  • To procure contraband   =   Fricoter
  • To slog through   =   Débrouiller, Demerder
  • To take a beating. (To take the pipe.)   =   Prendre la pipe.
  • To water down [the wine]. (To baptize)   =   Baptiser [le pinard]
          Cooks are often accused of this.
  • Tough fight   =   Coup de chien
  • To exaggerate or lie   =   Cherrer
          Nah! You're lyin'!   =   Ah non, tu cherrres!
  • To be tipsy or wounded (To be gray)   =   Être gris



    Common Expressions

  • All set?   =   On est paré?
  • Beware   =   Méfiez-vous
  • Bochey, Boche-like   =   Bochie
  • Bloody hell!   =   Foutu bordel!
  • Damn! Wow!   =   Vingt-Deux!
  • [a] Deal   =   Combine, binaise
  • Dirty joke   =   Perco
  • Don't worry, no worries.   =   N' t'en fais pas. T'en fais pas.
  • Eat (Gobble stones)   =   Bochément
  • Exempt (from service)   =   Ex
  • Extra (e.g. rations, wine, cheese, etc.)   =   Rabiot or Rab'
  • Fuck! (Whore)   =   Putain!
  • Fucking shit, fucking hell!   =   Bordel de merde!
  • Germanic (Boche-like)   =   Bocher
  • Germany   =   Allemagne
  • Golly!   =   Mince!
  • Good   =   Bono
  • Good (Bath)   =   Bath
  • Very good, everything's good.   =   Bono besef
  • Very bad, things are bad   =   Macach bono
  • Great (Huge)   =   Maous
  • Great, nice.   =   Chic
          A nice post.   =   Un poste chic.
  • Guts   =   Cran
          He's got guts.   =   Il a des crans.
  • He's brave.   =   Il a du poil.
  • He's dreary.   =   Il est fadé.
  • He's wounded. He's hit. (He's gray.)   =   Il est gris.
  • Home, hometown, home area   =   Patelin
  • I don't like it. I got a bad feeling about it.   =   Ça n'a rien à faire.
  • It's a success (It's tossed)   =   C'est jeté
  • It's all the same. Six of one, half-dozen of another.   =   C'est kif-kif
  • It's dangerous.   =   C'est vingt-deux.
  • It's impossible. It's too late.   =   C'est Midi.
  • It's raining. (It's drinking.)   =   Bouffer des cailloux
  • It's rough, dangerous.   =   Ça barde.
  • Joke   =   Potin
  • Joke   =   Blague
  • Move it! Get a move on!   =   Mets-en!
  • Nice, fancy, cool   =   Ça flotte or Il flotte.
  • No, nope   =   Nib
  • No matter what the cost.   =   Coûte que coûte.
  • No worries   =   T'en fait pas.
  • No worries. Don't worry.   =   N' t'en fais pas.
  • Oh man! Oh, for the love of...! (Oh cow!)   =   Ah la vache!
  • Pussy!   =   Con!
  • Say, ... [informal]   =   Dis-donc...
  • Screwed/Lost   =   Fichu
          Ex.: We're gonners.   =   Nous sommes fichu.
          Ex.: Times are crappy.   =   C'est un fichu temps.
  • Screwed   =   Foutu
          Ex.: He's screwed.   =   Il est foutu.
  • Shell-shock (Shocked, Shellitus)   =   la Commotion, Obusite
          Ex.: He's shell-shocked. He has shell-itis   =   Il avait commotionné. Il a l'obusite.
  • Shut it!   =   Ferme!, Ferme la!
  • Take cover!   =   Planquez-vous!
  • That's/It's funny, unbelievable. (That's unique.)   =   C'est rare.
  • To be cowardly   =   Être poltron
  • To be drunk (To be black)   =   Être noir
  • A hangover (wooden mug)   =   Gueule de bois
  • To be scared stiff (to be white-livered)   =   Avoir les foies blancs
  • To be sleepy (To be heavy)   =   Avoir la lourd
  • To waste/do in   =   Zigouiller
  • To be worried, bothered, upset. (To get mossed.)  =   Se faire de la mousse.
  • The Worry (The Moss)   =   la Mousse
  • To bug, piss off   =   Emmerder
  • To chow down   =   Casser la croûte
  • To do like the Boches   =   Bocherie
  • To exaggerate or lie (to Fife)   =   Fifrer
  • To have the jitters   =   Avoir les frousse
  • To malinger (To have nickel feet)   =   Avoir les pieds nickelés
  • To talk like a German. (To chomp on some straw.)   =   Hacher de la paille.
  • Watch out. Be careful. Attention.
  • What a bore! Boring!   =   C'est la barbe! La Barbe!
  • Why worry? What can you do?   =   Pourquoi s'en faire?
  • Wow!   =   Zut!


    For additional slang terms, see the the following Poilu slang site and this French slang dictionary.



    Disclaimer:
    Please bear in mind that while all efforts have been made to create as accurate as possible a translation of the above terms, there is a degree to which many will lose their original meaning. This difficulty arises partly from the inability of the English language to supply the exact technical or cultural equivalent of a given French term, but even more particularly from the extremely detailed nature of a technical or cultural French nomenclature. Where in the English language, a class name alone is applied to each of the objects or things of one and the same class, the French will almost invariably modify this class name by some adjunct limiting or defining its application. The result is to force the substitution of a description for a name. This substitution of a description is unavoidable in those cases in which the thing to be defined is peculiar to the French language, culture or military.

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