Glossary of Terms

Vietnam, like many wars had its own terms and expressions. Some of the words are what is classed as 'Nam Speak'. These are slang words used by the Grunts in the field. I have added an asterisk * to these. Vietnamese words denoted by § . French words by ±. Use the Navigation Bar above to go to other pages of the glossary.


A-1E:  Douglas Sky raider,single propeller attack aircraft that came into use in 1946.
A-4:    Douglas Skyhawk, Jet used by Navy and Marines
A-6A:  Grumman Intruder, twin jet, attack aircraft, all weather use
AAR:   After Action report
Aboard: On ship,base or with a unit
Actual: Used by the unit commander on the radio
AC-47:  Douglas C-47 Sky train, twin engine transport plane, modified as gunship. Known as Spooky
AC-119:  Fair Child Hiller C-119 modified as gunship. The G model was known as Shadow and the K Stinger
ADC:  Assistant Division Commander
AdminO: Administrative Officer
AFVN: Armed Forces Vietnam Network, 'from the Delta to DMZ' US radio station
Agency: CIA
Agent Orange: Toxic herbicide used to defoliate ground cover. Name comes from the orange identifying stripe on the drum it was shipped in. Caused cancers and other health issues with Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese
A-Gunner: Assistant machine gunner
AK-47: Russian machine gun Kalashnikov. 7.62mm standard issue to the NVA
All Hands: Every one
Air America: CIA run airline in Vietnam
Air Strikes: Attack missions from the air. Normally to support teams on the ground. The use of bombs, rockets, naplam and machine guns. Very effective in breaking up an enemy attack
ALO: Air Liaison Officer
AMTRAC: Amphibious Tractor
ANGLICO: Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company
ANZAC: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
AO: Air Observer
AO: Area of Operations
AOA: Amphibious Objective Area
Ao Dai: Vietnamese dress from 1700s onwards. Ao means clothing and Dai means long. Worn by women §
APC: Armored Personnel Carrier, M-113
APT:  Armed Propaganda Team, South Vietnamese pacification unit
Arc Light: B-52 bombing missions
Arty: Artillery
ARVN: Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam)
ASP: Ammunition Supply Point
ASRT: Air Support Radar Team



B-3: North Vietnamese Military Command in the Central Highlands South Vietnam
B-40: Name for Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) (Grunts called them Rocks)
B-52: Boeing Stratofortress heavy bomber based outside Vietnam
BA: Base Area
Ba Mui Ba : 33 beer §
Baby-San: From the Japanese used in WWII by Marines, means child *
Bac Bac: to fight or shoot §
Bac Si: Doctor or Corpsman §
Back in the World: Home the USA*
BAR: Browning Automatic Rifle. WWII weapon issued to ARVN in the early days of the war. Also used by VC
Barrel Roll: Code name for air missions over Laos
BAS: Battalion Aid Station
BDC: Base Defence Commander
Bee Hive Round: A shell filled with flechettes (metal darts)
BGen: Brigadier General
Berm: Narrow path between paddies
Betel Nut: Mildly narcotic nut which is chewed mainly by women. Frequent use turns teeth black!
Bird: Air craft/ chopper*
Bird Dog: Cessna observation aircraft*
Billet: Assignment, job, or barrack
Black Panthers: Militant Black Power political group of the 1960s
Blouse: All uniform tucked in
BLT: Battalion Landing Team
Blues: Dress Blues (Parade dress uniform)
Bn: Battalion
Body Count: The number of enemy killed in action
Bomb me Bad: Slang for 33 beer*
Boo Coo: From the French beau coup. To the Vietnamese it can mean big, many *§±
Booby Trap: Home made or manufactured explosives, spikes, etc made to wound and kill*
Boom Boom: Vietnamese slang for sex *§
Boondocks: The bush or out in the back country*
Boonies: As above*
Blooper: M-79 Grenade Launcher. Named after the sound it makes when fired*
Boot: New recruit*
Boot Camp: Training Camp. Parris Island SC or San Diego CA
Bouncing Betty: A land mine that rises to waist high then explodes* M16 Mine
Brass: Senior Officer*
Brig: Jail
Brig: Brigade
Brother: Black Marine or term used for other Marines (Bro)
Bug Juice : Insect repellant*
Bulk head: Wall
Buy the farm: Get killed or Zapped*
By the numbers: In an order of sequence


C-4: Plastic Explosives. Sometimes used to heat food. Came in 1lb blocks
C-117D : Douglas Sky train. Step up from the C-47. Military version of the DC-3
C-130: Lockheed Hercules. Four engine transport plane
CAAR: Combat After Action Report
CACO: Combined Action Company
CAG: Combined Action Group
CAP: Combined Action Platoon
Capt: Captain
CAS: Close Air Support
CBU: Cluster Bomb Unit
CCC: Combined Campaign Plan
Cdr: Commander
CEC: Construction Engineer Corps
CG: Commanding General
Charlie: Name for Viet Cong (VC) after the phonetics Victor Charlie *
CH-37: Sikorsky heavy transport helicopter
CH-46: Boeing Vettrol Sea Knight Transport helicopter
CH-53: Sikorsky Sea Stallion heavy transport helicopter
Chicom: A term for Chinese Communist equipment
Chieu Hoi: South Vietnamese amnesty program. A Chieu Hoi is some who has turned himself over to the south.
Chit: Written receipt
Chow: Food
Chow Hall: Mess Hall
Chopper: Helicopter *
Church Key*: Can Opener
CICV: Combined Intelligence Centre Vietnam
CID: Criminal Investigation Division
CIDG: Civilian Irregular Defense Group. (South Vietnamese)
CinCPac: Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet
CIT: Counter Intelligence Team
Class: I-V Categories of supplies
Claymore: Anti-personal mine, M18 mine
Click: One Kilometre
CMC: Commandant of the Marines Corps
CNO: Chief of Naval Operations
CO: Commanding Officer
CO: Vietnamese for young girl/ woman §
Cobra: Bell Cobra AG-1H The first helicopter to be designed as a gunship. Known as a Snake* by grunts
COC: Combat Operations Center
Col: Colonel
ComdC: Command Chronology
Con Biet: Vietnamese "Do you understand ?" §
Corpsman: Navy trained and part of the Navy, Known as 'Doc' to the Marines
CORDS: Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support. Run by MACV
COSVN: Central Office of South Vietnam. Communist military and political HQ in southern South Vietnam
County Fair: Cordon and search Operation
Cover: Hat / baseball cap
CP: Command Post
C-Rations. Rations that came in a cardboard case. Tins and packets. Known as C-Rats, Cs* Meal, Combat, Individual (MCI) was the real name as MCIs had replace C-Rations starting in 1958. The cardboard box they came in still had a C printed on it. The Name C-Rations stuck till MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) came in in the early 1980s
Crispy Critter: Slang for burnt up bodies. Normally from Napalm
Crotch Rot: Slang used for a condition were skin gets red and raw in the crotch area*
CS Gas: Tear Gas, used in clearing bunkers and tunnels
CTZ: Corps Tactical Zone
CUPP: Combined Unit Pacification Program. Marines working with South Vietnamese Popular Forces (PF) or Regional Forces (RF)




Copyright Alan Waugh & Respective owners 2014