South African Military Dictionary – Glossary of Military Terms

Not for Ourselves, but for Others

Created with Sketch.


Created for the benefit of those not always understanding the langauge of a South African soldier.


The following list of words, terms and phrases will probably never be truly complete, or exhaustive. Readers are cordially invited to help expand this ongoing ” work in progress ” for the benefit of posterity, by using the Edit function on this document.


For the sake of convenience / easy reading, the list is in alphabetical order .


Please note this list contains words that can be judged as offensive and objectionable – however as a historic document to capture the slang and terminology we need to beas objective as possible.





Aapjas – A long, hooded coat usually with a fake fur lining ( post 1983 issue version ).

Aapkas (1) – metal platform / cage , sited on a radio mast in SWA / Angola ops bases; used as a lookout post / fire director station for base defence mortars.

Aap Kas (2) – also know as the jump simulation cable rig at 44 Para

Aangekla/kla-ed aan – Put on a charge.

AB – Navy.Able Seaman (Lance Corporal)

Adjudant – ( 1 ) commissioned officer appointed as executive officer to unit OC / 2IC .

Adjudant – ( 2 ) abridged Afrikaans form of address for rank of Warrant Officer ( SA Police ).

AFB – Air Force Base

Afgekeur – Turned down, rejected.

Afkak – a state or condition in which you will not enjoy yourself – literally to ‘shit’ oneself

Afkak-kamp – An unpleasant camp

Afkak parade – Punishment parade

African bangles – handcuffs ( SA Police slang ).

Air Pollution – Paratroopers

AK – 47 – Avtomat Kalashnikova assult rifle

Akedis Dorp – Lizard City. The name given to the transit camp at 1 SAI

Alley – Navy….Any passage on a ship where the crew would walk.

Alouette – French designed helicopter gunship , Also known as “Draadkar”

Antinov – Soviet transport aircraft series.

AO – Afrikaans form of address for rank of warrant officer ( SA Police : pre 1994 )

APM – Anti Personnel Mine

Armscor – Armaments Corporation of South Africa

Asdic – Navy.. Submarine searching equipment by bouncing signals off their metal hulls underwater.

AWOL – Absent Without Official Leave.



Babbelaas – A hangover

Bakgat (also “BG”) – Good, great, ok, nice.

Bakkie – Light delivery van

Bakshee – For free (from the Arabic word)

Balkie – Corps colours worn on the beret under unit badge

Ballas – Balls/Testicles.

Balsak – literally ball bag ( as in soccer ball bag ) : military canvas kitbag / duffel bag

Basics. – Basic training, usually lasting about 10 weeks

BSM – Battery Sergeant Major – artillery corps equivalent of a CSM.

B & O – Bestuur en Onderhoud – Driving and Maintenance course.

Ballas Bak – “Ball baking” or laying around doing nothing and taking it easy

Bataljon aantreeparade – battilion forming up on a parade ground

Battle Jacket – SADF patten 83 battlejacket

Battle Jacket-pouches for Ammo-rat pack-bandages-flares-radio etc

Bedford – The large truck dating from the 1950’s. Renamed a ‘Samel’.

Befok – Mad or Fucked

Belay that – Stop what you’re doing.

Berede – Mounted Infantry-Horse/motorcycle

Beskadiging van Weermag Eindom – Damaging military property – including yourself –  a very serious offence

Bevelvoerder – Officer Commanding

Bicycle – Second lieutenant – any officer you could stand on like a bicycle – being the lowest commissioned office

BIG DAD- Bedford–SAP terminology in Rhodesia

Biltong – dried meat (USA – pemmican / jerkie)

Bidparade – church parade / prayer service.

Binnacle – A metal stand on the bridge which would hold the gyro compass in a free floating position so it always remained flat no mater how badly the ship was pitching or rolling.

Bivvy – one-man field / bivouac / pup tent.

Black is Beautiful – matt black camouflage paste, used for personal camouflaging.

Black Widow – type of anti personnel mine

Blesbok – a dropside logistics carrier version of the Casspir mine resistant APC, mainly used by the SA Police on border duties. Also nicknamed a ” Casspir bakkie “.

Bliksem – Hit, smack, punch. Also tough / hard person – “he’s a real bliksem! Also a mild cursing expression ( eg : jou bliksem !….literally, thunder )

Bloem – Bloemfontein

Blood Box – a field ambulance

Blougat – a troop who was no longer a ‘roof’ and not quite a ‘ouman’

Blou-jobs – South African Airforce Personnel

Bluestone – This was a ‘myth’ referring to an ingredient (usually in coffee) to reduce sex drive

Bobbejaanloop ( lit. ” baboon walk ” ) – field stealth movement, requiring moving crouched down / on all fours.

Boer – a terms to describe an Afrikaans person meaning ‘farmer’

Boerewors – An SA sausage 

Boertjie – slang for a Afrikaaner – literally ‘little farmer’

Boet – Brother / male friend 

Bokkie – Girlfriend

Bokkop – member of the Infantry Corps ( named after the springbok head corps badge ).

Bom Verband (Afikaans) Bomb Bandage (English) –  packaged bandage for high trauma blood injury

Boma – recreational area enclosed by thatch

Bombadier –  The artillery equivalent of a corporal.

Bombevok – shell-shocked / stir crazy.

Bone – method of shining shoes

Border, the – the South West African border with Angola

Border Tour – usually a 1-3 month stint in the SWA Operational Zone

Boom – Marijuana

Boompie Toer – Punishment in the form of a run to an earmarked tree and back.

Bosberaad – a meeting in the bush

Bos Bussie  – a vehicle in the bush following punishment session.

Bosbefok – Literally ‘Bush Crazy’ – addicted to combat

Boshoed – SADF nutria brown bush hat, worn with ” browns ” ( battledress uniform )

Boeshoed Poes – the stitching line measning ‘pussy’ on the boshoed which had to face backwards when worn

Bosbok – a AM.3 light aircraft used primarily for targeting, intel and forward air control

Bossies – bush mad or ‘combat crazy’

Bosuns whistle/pipe – A whistle used to signal commands.

Bos Oupa – a soldier who has completed two border tours

Bots – Botswana

Bowline – a type of knot used for securing a running rope to a fixed position.

Bra – Shortened version of ‘Brother’ – meaning ‘mate’

Braai – A barbecue

Brake Shoes – Provita Biscuits.

Bravo Wiel – military signalling terminology for a Buffel APC .

Bren – The BrNo 7,62mm machine gun

Bru – another shortened version of ‘Brother’ – meaning ‘mate’

Broom – Navy….A broom flown upside down from the flag halyard from the main signal halyard indicates a “clean sweep” lit: “all the enemies have been destroyed or sunk”.

Brow – When anyone crossed the brow of the ship (where the gangplank was) you would turn and salute the National colour on the jackstay fora’rd.

Browns – the general fatigues worn by the SADF

Buffel – South African made 4X4 mine-resistant armoured personnel carrier (APC )

Burger Sake –  Civic Action – “hearts and minds” campaign

Buddy – Friend or fellow platoon member

Budgie Club – South African Air Force members

Budgie – The cap badge of the South African Air Force.

Bulkhead – Navy Any wall anywhere or any metal wall seperating cabins/compartments.

Bunker – enclosed defensive position, usually made of sandbags; usually below ground.

Bungalow Bill – a representative of a bungalow elected to liaise with Officers and NCO’s

Bunting Tosser (TO-T) – Navy….Telecommunications Operator Tactical the Signalman who handled NATO and INTERCO signal flags, Semaphore, Aldis lamps, Colours and Sunset and the Encryption and Decryption of coded signals

Bush Pips – Cloth shoulder slip on officers insignia for ‘bush’ operations with embroided ‘pips’.

Buster Power – term used by fighter pilots for full power

BX – Navy….Bravo X-Ray sent as a flag signal lit: “splice the main brace”…real meaning “give the men their rum ration”…latterly “everyone have a drink”.

BZ – Navy….Bravo Zulu as a flag signal lit: “Extremely well done”



Casevac  – Casualty Evacuation

Casspir  –  A mine proof IFV.

Camos – Camoflauge fatigues or dress

CB  – Confined to barracks.

CC – Coloured Corps (should be CCC)

CF – Citizen Force.

Cheetah – Atlas developed fighter jet for the SAAF adapted from the Mirage III using Israeli Kfir technology

Chest webbing-pouches for loaded R4/5 magazines-pencil flare-box of R4/5 ammo 30 rounds-flap on the back for maps etc

Chicken a la Landmine – derogatory reference to chopped / shredded chicken stew with bones.

Chicken Parade – Picking up litter and cigarette butts in an area

China – Friend – comes from English cockney rhyming slang ‘china plate – mate’ picked up during the Boer War

Chommie – Friend

Chop – an idiot

Choppermanne – helicopter crew

Civvies (1) – Civilian Cloths

Civvies (2) – the general public not serving in the army

Civvy Street – Civilian Life

Claymore mine- small curved mine used for ambushes

Clicks – Kilometers

Clutchplate – ( 1 ) negative term for a Afrikaaner.

Clutchplate – ( 2 ) tinned hamburger patty.

CO – (1) Commanding Officer

CO – (2) Candidate Officer

COIN – Counter Insurgency

Commcen – The communications centre.

Com Ops – Communication Operations

Comms – Communications

Contact Contact Wait Out – Command to have radio silence whilst report is being prepared after initial contact with enemy, usually at section level.

Cozzie – swimming costume or trunks

Crest – Every ship would have a crest at the Quartermasters position depicting the ships name and heraldry

Crunchie – a derogatory term for a Afrikaner

CSM: Company Sergeant Major

Cuca shop ( SWA / Angola ops ) – informal grocery / general dealers shop, varying in size / stock.



Dagga – Marijuana

Dak – Dakota DC 3 transport aircraft

Dankie Tannie Organisations: Meaning ‘Thank you Auntie’ – The Southern Cross Fund and similar organisations.

Dankie Tannie mes – Swiss Army style penknife, gifted by the Southern Cross Fund .

Dankie Tannie Pakkie – A goodie bag issued to soldiers at Christmas by concerned civilian organisations

Dapper Duisend – members of the Riot / Internal Stability / Public Order units ( SA Police slang ).

Daraclor – A brand of anti-malaria pills (legend had it they turned the skin yellow)

Damduiker – Translation ‘Dam Diver’, nickname given to the SA Navy Marines

DB – Detention barracks.

DD1 – official SADF pro-forma document, used to record disciplinary offences.

Dear John – Term used for the ‘break-up’ letter from a girlfriend or wife

Deck – Navy…any floor or anywhere you walked whether aboard ship or not.

Deckhead – Navy Any ceiling.

Dems – Demolitions

Depth charge or Depth charge mortar – A device that was fired up to 1000 meters from the ship and set to a particular depth for explosion.

Devil dodger – member of the Chaplains service.

Diepseun – an introspective / introverted chap; on his own wavelength.

Dikbek – Fed up, grumpy

Dikkop – literally ” thickhead “; a stupid, dimwitted person.

Dinges – Thingami-bob, whats-its-name

Disco Biscuit – Narcotic drugs

Divisions – Navy term – the crew on a ship were divided into Port and Starboard Division and operated on a watch system

Dixie – mess / tiffin tin set, for eating from in the field.

Doctor Shock – Psychiatrist.

Doff – Stupid, thickhead

Dog biscuit – large, square, coarse wholegrain biscuit, found in ration ( “rat”) packs.

Doggie – ( 1 ) punishment routine, involving carrying / dragging / otherwise moving truck tyres.

Doggie – ( 2 ) colloquial nickname for a dog handler ( both SADF and SAP ).

Dog Tags – The two metal plates worn on a chain around your neck which indicated your name, army number, blood group and religion

Doiby – plastic helmet liner / inner.

Dominee – Dutch Reformed Church Minister

Domkop – an idiot, literally dumb head

Donder – ( lit. ” thunder ” ) a mild curse, or a threat to strike ( donder ) somebody.

Donderbuis – thunderflash

Doodsakker – Killing ground

Dooies – Dead

Doos (1) – Derogatory term for female genetalia

Doos (2) – A stupid person

Doos dief – A civilian who ‘steals’ your girlfriend whilst your in the service.

Dop – A drink of alcohol / to fail with something.

Dop en Dam – any alcholic drink, mixed with water.

Dop en Tjop – a braai / BBQ , with alcohol consumption.

Doppies – The cartridge cases left over from shooting

Dowit- Dud/unexploded ammunition

Draadkar – Alouette 111 helicopter .

Drol – Turd, usually describing somebody in a derogatory way.

D Tank – corrugated steel water storage tank, usually mounted on a scaffolding tower.

DSB – Deep sea boat

Duiker – a fuel bowser / tanker version of the Casspir mine resistant APC, used by the SA Police.

Dutchman – A derogatory term for an Afrikaner.



ECC – End Conscription Campaign

Eenvormig  –  Term whereby everything had to be uniform

Eina! – Ouch! 

Eish! – Zulu origin – an expression of resignation

Ek sê – I say!

Eland – Armoured Car also known as a Noddy Car

Engelsman – Englishman

Engine Mountings – Braised Steak

Ensign – Navy (1) The Navy flag which flew at the stern of the ship, the battle ensign was much larger.

Ensign – Navy (2) The lowest ranking Officer in the Navy equiv to a 2nd Lieutenant.

ERA and ERM – Navy….Engine Room Artificer/Engine Room Mechanic.

Esbit tablets / pille – compressed paraffin solid fuel tablets, for cooking with in the field.

Esbit stove – rectangular fold-open miniature one-man field cooker, fuelled by esbit tablets.

EWO – Navy….Electronic Weapons Operator (Missiles or electronic quick firers/gatlings)



Fakkel – a Flare

FAPLA – Peoples Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola

Fashion parade – where every piece of kit is used in an opfok the night before an inspection

Firing-in – Weapons sighting

Fire bucket – aluminium mug with fold-up handle, fitted over the military canteen / water bottle.

Flash (1) metal badge worn on stepouts shoulder/ sleeves depicting unit

Flash (2) tupperware shoulder flash depicting unit worn on fatiques (browns or camos)

Flossie -The C130 Hercules

Flying Meatballs – Derogatory term for the parabats.

Fly Spy – nickname for SADF members tasked with spraying insecticide in border bases.

FNLA – National Front for the Liberation of Angola

Fok – Fuck

Foghog – A fan mounted on the rear of an SAP ‘bakkie’ which blows CS powder onto crowds of rioters.

FUBAR – Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.


G1K1: Medically healthy and fit for service, perfect cannon fodder.

G2K1: Healthy but wearing glasses or hearing aid or had bad eyes, physically in good condition – perfect canon fodder too.

G2K2: As above, they thought there may have been something else wrong but did not investigate.

G3K3: Usually asthma sufferers were G3.

G3KFcukedUp – The Infantry slang for a G3.

G4K4: These were soldiers with serious medical problems.

GT: Temporary deferment due to medical grounds.

G5/GP: The army considered you dead, you were of no use to them at all. Medically discharged.

G3 – An older 7,62mm assault rifle made by Heckler and Koch and also known as the R2

Gashfanny – rubbish recepticle on board a ship.

G5 – 155mm Howitzer Artillery – backbone artillery peice of the SADF

G6 – 155mm self propelled gun – also known as the ‘Rhino’

Gatvol – fed up, had enough.

Gemsbok – an armoured recovery vehicle, based on the Casspir mine resistant APC, used by the SA Police.

Geen skerp punt ammunisie, doppies of dele daarvan in my besit nie –  Weapons safety phrase in Afrikaans, meaning ” no sharp point ammunition, cartridge cases or parts thereof in my possession’.

Genie-(Afr) Engineers

Gharrie – Land Rover (from the Arabic word picked up by SA troops in World War Two in the desert.

Gippo / gyppo – taking chances, skiving, getting out of doing something.

Gippoguts – diahorrea / upset stomach

Go Cart – Fibreglass toilet shells which were placed over a hole dug in the ground.

Gogga – SAAF Officers Course phrase for extended period of excercise

Gomgat – Redneck

Goof or Goef – to go for a swim

Goolies – Testicals

Grondseil – ground sheet : forming flooring section of a bivvy / larger tent.

Grootjas / aapjas – long khaki / green serge military greatcoat ( pre 1983 issue ).

Grootsak – ( literally ” big bag ” ) : large square rucksack , attaching to webbing harness, for carrying majority of kit ( earlier pattern webgear ). Later pattern, referring to the H frame backpack.

GOS – Afrikaans abbreviation for the English JOC ( Joint Operations Centre ).

Gumba – nickname given to police riot control / mass transit trucks ( SA Police slang ).

Gunner – A private in the artillery.

Gunship – Alouette helicopter with door mounted armament ( also see K Car ).

GV (Grens vegter) – A Rambo type.



Haak-en-steek – a type of thorn bush

Haasman / Haasvrou – civilian/ member of the public ( SA Police slang ).

Hase – ( plural ) civilians / members of the public ( SA Police slang ).

Hardegat (Afr): Hardassed, stubborn, non conformist.

Heads – Navy…..Toilets.

Heave to – Navy…stop the ship ( has reference to ancient times when the sails were heaved closed or the oars pulled in to stop rowing)

HE – High Explosive

Hindernis Oorsteking – Obstacle crossing.

Hoezit / howzit – Hullo.

Hoofdeksel – i.e. head-gear – beret, hat or helmet

Hoofhek – Main Gate

Hopper – frequency hopping radio

Hot Area – Area with confirmed enemy presence

Hotbox – a rectangular steel container, used to transport hot food from base to the field / to dish food up from in base.

Honey Sucker – A large tank with a pump to empty latrines, sewers and manholes.

Houding – Character, style.

Hundreds – meaning ‘I’m fine’

Hurry up and wait – military sarcasm for been rushed and then doing nothing



Impala – Italian designed Aermacchi MB 326 fighter jet

Impimpi – isiZulu language term for a police informer.

In sy moer – Damaged, destroyed, “buggered” (considered a mild swear word)

Inkata – Inkata Freedom Party

Intel – Intelligence

Intreetoetse – Entry Tests

Isit – meaning ‘is it’ usually a expression of surprise



Jack – Navy….The National Flag which was flown on the prow of the ship and the pole it was hung on was known as a Jackstay…a Jackstay was also any fixed pole on the ship used to secure a line for rigging purporses for example.

Jaff – olive green personal camouflage cream, supplied in tubes.

Jags – sexually aroused ‘horney’

Jam stealer – member of the supply services / logistics corps ( origins : British and Rhodesian military).

Jammy – a ‘car’ from English rhyming slang ‘Jam Jar – car’

January intake: National Serviceman Intake scheduled for January – 2 intakes each year

Jati – a long strip on the border cleared by bulldozer

Jiffy – Condom

Jiffy Bag – Body Bag

Jimmy – member of the Signal Corps ( origins – British military ).

Jimmy – Navy….The First Lieutenant. XO normally (Executive Officer) The Skippers 2 IC. For example Prince Philip was the Jimmy on HMS Whelp before she became the SAS Simon van der Stel.

Jippogat – An avoider of duties.

Jirra – From Afrikaans for ‘Here’ – the Almighty

Jislaaik! – Expression of surprise.

JL’s: Junior Leadership Course – Officer and NCO intensive training.

JOC – Joint Operations Centre ( combined all services command centre / post ).

Jol – To party / have fun

July intake: National Serviceman Intake scheduled for July – 2 intakes each year.

Jungle Bunny – Highly derogatory term for an African

Jumpers – Special heavy boots worn by parabats

Jungle juice – tinned fruit juice concentrate, diluted with water, served at tea breaks / meals.

Junior Rates – Navy….Any sailors from Leasing Seaman downwards (Corporal).

Just Now – a SA phrase meaning ‘I will do it sometime .. just not now .. maybe never’



Kak – Shite, crap, rubbish, nonsense (vulgar)

Kak houding – Bad or shit attitude (vulgar)

Kak off – Shit off (vulgar)

kakgat – a latrine literally ‘shit hole’ (vulgar)

Kakhuis Offisier  – Candidate Officer translation meaning ‘Shit House’ or ‘Toilet’ Officer

Kamper – a SADF member performing periodic one to 3 month reserve callups, for ” camps “.

Kanondonkie – ( gun donkey ) a member of the Artillery Corps.

Kaplyn – ( lit. cut line ) reference to cleared strip demarcating the SWA / Angola border.

Kapoen –  Kapoen was the beret colour of one of the PSC (Personnel Service Corps) and is best described as a clay shit brown. Kapoen derived because it was “tussen kak en pampoen” (a mixture of shit and pumpkin).

Kas (1) – Prison Cell

Kas (2) – Steel Cupboard

Kateefie – The mixture of tea, coffee and cocao served in galvanised rubbish bins with the condensed milk time chucked in with just the lids removed.

Kay – Kilometer

K Car – nickname for the helicopter gunship derivative of the Alouette III light helicopter.

Kiff – Cool or Great

Killick – Navy…Leading Seaman (Corporal)

Kippie – someone who does basic errands for a more senior NCO or Officer – also known as ‘Kippie the cunt’ as it was not seen as a highly prized role – army sarcasm

Kitskonstabel – derogatory nickname for SA Police special constables.

Klaa aan/on – to be charged with contravening the military disciplinary code

Klaarstaan – time period from sunset to last light, when personnel in operational area bases ” stand-to “, manning perimeter defences.

Klap – To smack / hit.

Klaar – Finish

Klaar in – Report for Duty

Klaar Out – to finish national service or clear out of a unit

KO – Kandidaat Offisier – Candidate Officer abbreviation

Koevoet  – The South African Police anti-terrorist unit – translation ‘Crowbar’

Koffiemoffie – slang for a homosexual flight steward

K*nt grabbas – Hands.

Kontak – Contact with the enemy

Kommandant – Lt Colonel

Kop smokkel – lit. ” smuggling with my head “. Confusing / misleading someone.

Korporaal – Corporal

Kort Diens – Short service for 3 to shorten ‘camp’ commitments.

Kos tiffie – alternative nickname for members of the Catering Corps / military chefs.

Kraal – rural communal village / settlement, fenced -in group of traditional African huts.

Kranskakker – rude nickname for members of the SADF Commando reserves ( due to badge design).

Kwaai – Cool, excellent

Kwela kwela – nickname for SA Police riot trucks ( SA Police slang & township ” tsotsitaal ” ).

Kwevoel – mine resistant armoured derivatives of the SADF SAMIL 50 / 100 military truck series.

Kydaar – a derogatory term for a Afrikaaner meaning ‘look there’ – usually given to holidaymakers



Lag – laugh

Landmine stew – derogatory reference to stews made with chopped beef / mutton, bones included.

Langarm – conservative dance style used at military balls

Lapbaadjie – member of the CID / detective branch / plainclothesmen 9 SA Police slang ).

Lance Bomb – ( 1 ) Artillery Corps nickname for lance bombardier rank / eqv : lance corporal.

Lance Bomb – ( 2 ) SA Police nickname for lance sergeant rank / eqv : SADF sergeant.

Lance Jack – nickname for a lance corporal ( British military origin ).

Lank – lots, many

Larny – the boss, main man / something fancy or smart.

Lebbo – a South African with Lebanese origin

Leeukos ( lit.” lion food ” ) – disrespectful term for a senile person ( SA Police slang ).

Lekker – Nice, good, great.

Leopard crawl – field stealth movement, requiring crawling forward in cover, flat on the ground.

Lighty – a young male child / male juvenile…literally, a light-weight.

Light Duty – member placed on limited / restricted activity schedule by a military doctor.

Lighteplighte- Person on Light Duties.

Likkewaan – members of the SA Prisons Service / Correctional Services ( SA Police slang ).

Line – Navy….Any larger rope…a small rope on a whaler for example was called a painter.

Links – Left

LMG – Light Machine Gun ( either a Bren or FN MAG ).

Loadies – uniformed SAAF load masters

Location – an african township

Long drop – latrine trench / pit toilet. 

Long Tikkie- method used for making free calls from a telephone booth

Looi – thrash, bomb or get the better of

Loopas March –  Double time/on the double

Loopgraaf – trench

Loot – A loot was a lieutenant.

Luitenant – Lieutenant

LSD : Lam, Siek en Dooies ( Lame, Sick & the Dead ) – derogatory term for light duty members.

Lunar Ops – combined SAAF / paratroop COIN operations, by night in Owamboland.

LWT – The transport park



MAG – A 7,62mm belt fed machine gun.

Magsnommer – Force or Service number allocated to all serving members

Makalani palm – indigenous species of palm tree, common to SWA / Angola ops area.

Makorro – traditional African dugout canoe, found in the Caprivi area of SWA.

Mahangu beer – Owambo made home-brewed sorghum beer ( SWA / Angola ops area ).

Mal – mad, crazy, insane

Mampara – Idiot, stupid

Manne – men

Marine – Navy….Seaborne Infantry.

Matelot – Navy Personnel

MBV – Myn Bestande Voertuig – translated to Mine proof vehicle

Meat Bomb – Paratrooper

Meat Pie – Military Policeman.

Menasiespeurder – member employed in police messes ( lit. mess detective ) ( SA Police slang).

Messdeck – Navy….The place you lived, ate and slept.

Mielie – Maize / corn cob

Mik en Drik – translation ‘aim and fire’

Mills Sight – removable sight for mortars

Min Dae – Only a few days left – translated into an ‘attitude’ when nearing the end of service

Min Gespin – not bothered / couldn`t care less.

Mirage – French designed fighter flown by the SAAF – Dassult Mirage III , F1 AZ & CZ (Flamgatte)

MLOS/MAOT – Mobile Air Operations Team

Muis en Sluitstuk – The breech block and slide of an R1 rifle.

Muggie – gnat / midge / bug

Moegoe – stupid person

Moffel – a mine resistant logistics carrier version of the Buffel APC ( also called a Buffel Bakkie ).

Moffie – male homosexual (derogatory)

Moer – Hit

Moer in – mad, angry

Moering tool – an object used for hammering with ( usually a hammer ).

Moer strip – to become annoyed / be annoyed by someone or something.

Moer-toe – Messed up, destroyed

Moerass Padda – Military Policeman.

Moerse goed – very good or excellent

Mog – nickname for the SADF Mercedes Benz Unimog light utility 4X4 truck.

Mooi Moois – Step outs, as in beret, stable belt, putties and cravat.

Meat Pie – Military Police

MP – Military Police

MPLA – Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola

Mugu – A fool or perhaps more aptly… a useless fool.

Munt – Highly offensive term of an African ( Rhodesian slang ).

Muntus – Highly offensive term for a group of Africans ( Rhodesian slang ).

Muti – Medicine, ointment. (Pronounced “mootie”)

MVL/MRL – Multiple Rocket Launcher



NAAFI – Abbreviation for No Ambition And Fuck-all Interest

Naai the beat – To stand guard.

Nagsig – carrots ( fresh or tinned ).

Nasrec – National Recreation Centre from where persons from Johannesburg where mustered for service

NCO – Non Commissioned Officer

NDP /NSM – Nationale Dienspligtige or National Serviceman in English.

Necklacing – Insurgency practice of placing a tyre around a person neck with fuel and lighting it – usually an informant.  

NG Kerk – The Dutch Reformed Church, the official religion of the SADF.

Noddy car: Eland 90 armoured car-based on a French Panhard

Nogal – what’s more

Nooit – never

Number 5 – The most popular Ration Pack, it contained a can of Cocktail Sausage.

Nutria – The ‘Brown’ colour used on all SADF combat fatigues

Nyala – armoured riot control vehicle used by the SA Police, succeeding the Casspir APC.



OC – Officer Commanding

OH Drills – Onmiddelikke Handlings drills meaning Immediate action drill in English

Oke – guy

Olifant – mk1B main battle tank

Olifant Ore – ‘Elephant Ears’ dust filters on a helicopter

Om die kakhuis gaan – Punishment – to  run around the shithouse.

Omkeer – Command to ‘about turn’

One-liner – a Lance Corporal

Oom – Term of respect for an older man, literal translation ‘uncle’

Oortjies – Little Ears

OP – observation post.

Opfok – literal meaning ‘fuck-up’ – term given to punishment excersise

Oppie – abbreviation of a ‘Opfok’ – term for punishment excersise

Ops – Operations

Ops Medic – Combat Medic with additional training

Ops Room – Operations Room – command control centre

Ops Officer – Commissioned Officers controlling Operations

Oorlog – SADF, or its members ( SA Police slang ).

OS (Ordinary Seaman), however once course qualified they were automatically promoted to AB.

Oshivello  –  A base inside the operational area in South West Africa

Ou (plural ouens) / oke – Man, bloke

Ouballie / outoppie – Father, old man

Ouman – a veteran SADF conscript , with more than one year`s completed service. 

Oumanne – a group of veteran conscripts – literal meaning ‘old men’

Owambo burgers – A meal made from the thick type dog biscuits, vienna sausages and the cheezie, backed in the biscuits tinfoil packaging on a bushfire or esblit. Quite tasty actually.

Owambo piele – Vienna sausages.

Owambo Rico – extremely potent homebrewed liquour, distilled from sap of the makalani palm tree ( SWA / Angola ops. area ).



Paal PT ( ” pole PT ” ) – fitness / punishment physical training , involving use of logs / poles; carried collectively, or individually / used as weights during calesthenics.

Packed out swastikas – running with arms and legs pumping

Pakkie – Package or Parcel

Pap – Maizemeal porridge.

Papa – military signalling terminology for a road ( SWA / Angola theatre ). (eg : die Wit papa ).

Paraat – Well disciplined / has “houding”

Parabat – A parachute battalion member

Pass – permission for a short break to go home

Passout Parade – the parade to dismiss all for a short break to go home

Patrol bag / patrolliesak – a smallish square green canvas utility bag, clipped onto the webbing harness, or carried slung over the shoulder / chest.

Patrol Mortar- 60mm mortar (bubble distance indicator and small foot/base plate)

Pay tiffie : member of the Financial Service Corps / pay clerk.

PB (Afr): Plaaslike Bevolking. Local population.

PB landmine – jagged stumps of trees / shrubs felled for firewood by the local population ( PBs ) in SWA / Angola. Notorious for puncturing vehicle tyres.

PE – Plastic Explosive

Peleton Piel – translation to Bungalow Bill, a person nominally in charge of a platoon / a bungalow.

Pentiffie – member performing admin / clerical duties.

Perdeparade – horse parade

Personeeldiens – Personnel Services

Permanent Force (PF’s) –  PF’s where career soldiers

PF – Pickled Fish (Rat pack)

Piemp – rat on

Phillistines – Rhodesians

Pie hole- Mouth

Pikstel – stainless steel interlocking cutlery set.

Pislelie – ( ” pee lilly ” ) – plastic lily / trumpet shaped field urinal pipe, set in sand.

PK, the – affectionate name for the SAS President Kruger which sank in 1982 after colliding with the SAS Tafelberg, 16 lives lost.

PKM – Russian machine gun

Plakkies – sandals ( aka flip-flops, from their sound ).

Plaaslike bevolking (PB’s) – local population

Plat pote – Flat feet

Pluk – State of bliss induced by drugs

PO – Navy….Petty Officer (Sergeant) next one up was CPO known as “Chief”…Chief Petty Officer (Staff Sergeant)

Poephol – arsehole

Poep voer – to fool / trick somebody / take them for a ride. ( lit. ” feed a fart to ..)

Poes (1) – Offensive term for female genetalia

Poes (2) – Offensive insult to someone

Poes Boekies – Photo picture libraries with reference to a woman’s genitals.

Polisiekoffie – brandy and Coke ( SA Police slang ).

POM-Z – a type of mine

Pongo – Sland for Army i.e. where the army goes the pong goes

Porra – Portuguese person

PORG – Person of Restricted Growth i.e a short person.

Port – the left hand side of a ship

Posparade – parade where mail is recieved

Potjie – Traditional open fire stew in a three legged pot

Potjiefakkels – trip flares in small ‘pots’

Pronutro – The Pro Patria Medal awarded for service in a combat zone

PSC/PDK – Personnel Services School/Corps

PT – Physical Training

PTI – Physical Training Instructor

PTSD – Post Traumantic Stress Disorder

Puddle Pirates – South African Navy

Puma – A general purpose helicopter used by the South African Air Force

Pussy Pink – Army issue floor polish

Putco – Super Frelon helicopter



Quartermaster – (1) Person in command of logistics supply operations in a unit ;

Quartermaster – (2) Appointment / muster title : SA Navy.

Quartermaster Store ( QM Store ) – unit logistics / supply storage facility.



R1 – The 7,62mm assault rifle modeled on the FN Rifle.

R4 – The 5,56mm calibre assault rifle modeled on the Israeli Galil.

R5 – The 5,56mm calibre assault rifle – shorter barrel version of the R4.

Raak die draad – to touch the wire. Punishment running up to the fence,  touching it and then running back

Ratel 20 –  A locally produced armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)  armed with a 20mm cannon, 3 X 7,62mm Browning machine guns and 4 smoke launchers. It could carry 8 infantrymen or a section.

Ratel 60 – A IFV with a turret mounted 60mmm mortar. Ratel is the Afrikaans name for a honey badger

Ratel 90 – Also a IFV with mounted a 90mm turret mounted anti-tank gun.  Ratel is the Afrikaans name for a honey badger

Rat pack – Ration Pack

Rating – Navy….Any sailor Killick and below also known as Junior Rates.

Rats – Rations

Re-rat – re-rationing to troops in the field

Recce (1) – A member of the Reconnaissance Unit

Recce (2) – the act of reconnaissance

Red Eye – BM – 21 missile

Red Doiby – a red helmet inner worn by personnel on detention or confined to barracks drill

Regs – Right

Regsom – Command for ‘right turn’

Regte Po*s – Regimental Police

REMF – Rear Echelon Mother F*&kr – Non Combat Personell

RENAMO – Mozambique National Resistance

Rev/Revved-usually referred to when a base was attacked by enemy RPGs and mortors

Revetment – a fortified retaining wall

Rhino – G6 – 155mm self propelled gun

Ride Safe / Ry Veilig – national project for personnel on pass to be picked up/ dropped off at designated points by motorists ( random hitchhiking in uniform was prohibited ).

Rinkhals – Armoured mine proof ambulance

Rooikiem – Reg Germ: derogatory term for a regimental policeman

Rioolpyp / Rioolpadda – literally ” drainpipe / drain frog ” : derogatory term for a regimental policeman, based on their RP brassard / armband.

RM-Reaksie Mag-Reaction Force

Robot – a traffic light

Rock – a derogatory term for an Afrikaner

Rockspider – A derogatory term for an Afrikaner.

Romeo Mikes – 101 Battalion’s ‘Reaction Force’

Rondfok – Literally – to be fucked around

Rondom verdediging –  All around protection. Encircling an object with troops for protection.

Rondomdom – lit. dumb / stupid all around / in all directions. Indicates total stupidity

Roof – a SADF conscript with less than one year`s completed service, literal meaning ‘scab’.

Roof / Roofie Ride – trip by truck for new intake conscripts, during which they are given a ” shakeup ” with bad driving ( heavy braking / sharp cornering, etc.)

Rooi Gevaar – Meaning ‘red danger’ term given to the ‘Communist Threat’

Rooinek – (red neck) – A derogatory term for an Englishman.

Rooi Oog – alt. Afrikaans nickname for the 122mm Katyusha / Stalin Organ MLRS.

RP’s – Regimental Police

RPD – Russian Machine Gun

RPG – Rocket Propelled Grenade

RSM – Regimental Sergeant Major.

RTU / Return to unit – soldiers not completing training courses at corps schools; returned to unit of origin.

RV – military abbreviation for map grid reference ( read as a series of numbers ).

RZ – military abbreviation for rendezvous ( point ).



SAAF – The South African Air Force

SACC – South African Coloured Corps

SADF – The South African Defence Force.

SAGDOS – The South African Medical Service Training Corps

SAI – South African Infantry

SAM – Sergeant Major

SAM 7- Soviet ground to air weapon

SAMIL – series of general purpose military trucks used by the SADF. Further identified by numbering equalling their tonnage , ie : SAMIL 20 ( 2 tonner ), SAMIL 50 ( 5 tonner ), SAMIL 100

( 10 tonner ).

Samewerking/saamwerk – Co-operation, teamwork.

SAN – South African Navy

Sandbag PT ( ” sandsak PT ” ) – fitness / punishment activity, with participants carrying filled sandbags while running / performing excercises .

SANDF – The South African National Defence Force.

Santa Maria – SADF issue mens underpants

sak – drop

Sak vir tien/vyvfig – Drop for 10/50 pushups.

Sat – Tired, dead (Pronounced “sut”)

Sapper – A private in the Engineering Corps / colloquial term for Engineer Corps members.

Saracen- personnel carrier

Sarmies – Sandwiches

Sausage machine – Mounted on a casspir this machine consisted of two spinning discs which fired rubber bullets which were fed into it like a string of sausages.

SAWI/SADFI – South African Defence Force Industries

Shona or oshona – local name for a dry open area or large pool in Angola

Shosaloza (Zulu) – An African working song popular in the army

Section 8 – Insanity Dischange.

Seven Single – A very large or misformed beret

Shaki – A colour described as being between Shit and Khaki (see Kapoen).

Shilka – Russian made self propelled AA.

Shrapnel – tinned mixed vegetables

Shrapnel Chicken – Shredded chicken.

Sieltiffie / siel mechanic : member of the SADF welfare services .

Sien jy daardie boom?  – Do you see that tree? –  Military sarcasm which usually meant a punishment run was about to begin

Sif – dirty, does not pass inspection

Sies / “sis” – expression of disgust, disappointment.

Silwer Slyper – ” promotion ” awarded to a Super Slyper, for better ” performance ” ( see below ).

Sitrep – situation report

Sjambok – whip

Skaapdra – carry a heavy weight or ones buddy

Skeef – Crooked, gay.

Skop, skiet en donner – “action – kicking, shooting and beating people up” / action movie.

Skelm – Crook, or secret lover.

Skietbaan Bingo – field punishment, where troops run to target number signboards and back.

Skietbalkie – Shooting medal award – the badge is worn above the name tag

Skietpiet – a member of the Infantry Corps.

Skietgat  –  The area of the shooting range behind and underneath the targets.

Skietwal – The high earthen wall behind the shooting range

Skinder – Gossip.

Skipper – Navy….the Captain of the ship normally a Commander (Lt Colonel)

Skollie – slang term used in the Cape Province, denoting a criminal / rogue.

Skraal – Very hungry, very thin. 

Skrik – Fright.

Skuinsdraad – wire used as an aerial on the B25 (sometimes Claymore wire, very good reception)

Skutter – rifleman / rank equivalent to private in the Infantry Corps.

Slapgat – Careless, lazy, a weakling.

Slap tjips – fried chips (as opposed to crisps which are known as chips). Pronounced “slup chips”.

Slops.  Navy cash store.  Where one can buy spare personal equipment, badges and the like.

Smaak – To like something or someone.

Smaak stukkend – to like something or someone very much.

Smash – dehydrated powdered form mashed potatoes.

SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up

Snoepie – small shop/tuck shop

Snotklap – to threat to slap someone across the face in such a way that snot will run

Snotneus -The American 40mm M79 grenade launcher.

Snuffeltiffie – member of the Intelligence Corps.  Sniffs out information!

Soek Steek Stok  – A stick with a wedge shaped tip used to probe for mines.

Sokkiejol – Town Dance

Sommer – For no reason / just because.

Sopboetie – a derogatory term for a Afrikaner – derived from holiday makers in natal minding thier kids heads on street sign-boards

Soutie – a derogatory term for an Englishman – shortened version of ‘Soutpiel’

Soutpiel – A derogatory term for an Englishman – meaning someone with one foot in SA and one foot in the UK and their penis hangs in the ocean – literal ‘salty penis’

Sparker. Sparkey/Sparks – Navy….The Signalman responsible for sending and receiving morse code via radio including encrypted messages, also responsible for monitoring other ships traffic and tracking Non NATO forces.

Spick and Span – Luncheon meat

Spoegbakkie – a small stainless steel drinking cup, without handle, used with the mess tray.

Spook en Diesel – rum and Coke.

Spookloop ( lit. ” ghost walk ” ) – field stealth movement technique, requiring very slow, soft footfalls.

Spookpatrollie – Drill whereby engineers would search for signs of mining on tarred roads in operational areas while in vehicles. Opposite to clearing unsurfaced areas on foot.

SSB – Special Services Battalion, Panzer or Armoured Corps

S&T – Dailey allowance for sustinance and transport

Staaldak – the SADF steel helmet

Staaldak, webbing en geweer – A command to don your Helmet, webbing and rifle

Staan by jou bed! – A command to stand by your bed

Staan Op Troep! – Literally Stand up soldier! Usually used when entering a bungalow of sleeping troops or when entering a room. Always bellowed at the top of the voice.

S Tank – a collapsable rubberised PVC temporary water storage tank, on ground level.

Stalin Organ – truck mounted multiple rocket launcher

Stand to – period before sunrise when a unit is on full stand-by for attack

Starboard – the right hand side of a ship.

Starjumps – part of an opfok

Stasie blompot – derogatory nickname for members of the SA Railways & Harbours Police.

States, the – another name for back home when posted to the operational area i.e. RSA

Steerable – a type of parachute

Stepouts – More formal dress than ‘browns’ or fatigues usually worn in an office environment, on parades or to go on weekend pass

Stig ‘n TB! – Form a TB (Tydelikke Basis or Temporary base).

Stompie (1) – A cigarette end.

Stompie (2) – A squat bottle of beer – Castle or Lion Larger

Stoortiffie / stoorman – members assigned to the Quartermaster Store / Ordnance Supply Corps.

Stopper Group – deployed with an attack group, usually to stop enemy escape

Streef – Strive

Strek – a way of acknowleging higher rank

STRIM – colloquial term applied to enemy rifle grenades.Specific = Yugoslavian made models.

Stryk – iron

Super Cs – energy lozenge sweets, found in ration ( “rat” ) packs.

Superfrelon – Large French manufactured helicopter, also known as the “Putco”

Super Slyper – someone who ducks and dives / sees without being seen / keeps a low profile.

Suurstof dief – Literally an oxygen thief, one who is so sick or such an idiot they are seen as stealing air from the healthy.

SWA – South West Africa, the name formerly given to Namibia.

Swabbies – Navy Personnel

SWAPO – South West African Peoples Organisation.

SWAPO Airforce – Any flying beetle or insects.

Swart Bed – meaning  ‘Black Bed’ literally – A bed made up with only a blanket. Usually made on laundry day or when going on pass.

Swart Gevaar – threat of black power or rule

Swerf Wag – Roving sentry

Swerver – mine resistant armoured patrol vehicle, with Landrover engine, used by the SA Railways & Harbours Police, then taken over by the SA Police. Hugely unpopular, due to unreliability.



Takkies – Sneakers

Tampax Tiffie – Slang term for a medic.

Tannie – a term of respect for an older woman – literally ‘aunty’.

Taxis – sections of blanket / similar material , used to shine barracks floors with.

TAZ – Navy….Torpedo Anti Submarine…the Asdic/Radar/Torpedo tracking operators…known as a “TAZ rate”

TB – temporary base ( Afrikaans = tydelike basis ).

Tein Ops – Meaning Coin Ops in English – Teen Insurgensie Operasies or Counter Insurrgency Operations.

Terrs – Terrorists

Terrapins – rooms with mosquito netting instead of windows and a tin roof

Thunderflash – non fragmentation explosive devise also known as a ‘flashbang’ grenade

TIA – Sarcasm for ‘This Is Africa’

Tiekiebox – public telephone

Tiffie – A member of the TSC/TDK (Tegniese Diens Korps/Technical Service Corps).

Tokkeltou – a 5ft. white braided nylon utility rope, with loop and toggle closure, used as a towrope.

Toktokkiegeweer – SA Army 106 mm recoilless gun 9 also known as a ” 106 ” ).

Toppie – an old man

Township – an african suburb or ‘location’

Township Duty – duties performed in a african township, anything from road blocks to riot control

Toyi-toyi – a dance that signifies uprising

Transnet – Formely South African Railways and Harbours

Tree Aan! – Afrikaans command to form a squad

Trek af plak toe – take target down and close the holes – meaning, end the argument and move on

Troep – troop

Trommel – metal military trunk / footlocker

Trompoppies – drum majorettes

Tsotsi – a crook / gangster

Tuckshop – small store or caffeteria

Tune – to give someone lip

Two-liner – a full corporal



Uitkak – a telling off – literally ‘shit out’

Uitklaar – procedures surrounding completing military service , demobilisation

Uitpak inspeksie  – Afrikaans command for an Inspection where your kit is laid out on your bed.

Uittree – Afrikaans command for Dismiss.

Uitveer Squad – nickname for members of the Security Branch; those who use rubbers to sign their names.

Unimog – two tonne 4×4 general purpose truck

UNITA – National Union for the Total Independance of Angola

US – Unserviceable



VVVVVVV – Navy…If a series of V’s are sent by morse the sending ship is enquiring what ship you are ie what is your callsign. Callsigns were normally 4 letter groups.

Vangwa – police patrol van .

Vaak – ( lit. dozy / sleepy ) : either being tired, or being dozy / ignorant.

Vaakseun – a dozy, dopey chap, slow on the uptake.

Vaaltuin – ( lit. a barren garden ) : somebody boring, drab, dull, unexciting.

Valk – two helicopters flying in loose formation – translation – hawk

Varkpan – stainless steel cafeteria / mess tray

Vasbyt – ( 1 ) ( lit. ” Bite Fast ” ) hang in there, bite the bullet : term of encouragement.

Vasbyt – ( 2 ) name given to  a torturous route march at the end of the Junior Leaders courses.

Varkpiel  – Portable immersion heater usually plugged into any convenient light socket in a tent or bungalow.

Vasbyter – nickname given to the bullnosed model of the military Bedford truck.

Verberging en Vermoming  – Afrikaans phrase for Camouflage and disguise.

Vir Inspeksie, hou geweer! – Afrikaans version of command ” For inspection…present arms !”.  Usually used when declaring that there were no rounds in the rifle

Verkramp – Conservative

Vetseun – fat boy

Victor Yankee – Vyand, usually non SWAPO like Cuban Forces.

Vlamgat / Vlammie – nickname given to the Atlas Aviation Impala Mk II ground attack jet.

Vleisbom – Afrikaans slang for a paratrooper.

Vloek – swear

Voertsek – Go away, bugger off.

Volk en Vaderland – a nationalist cry for ‘People and Fatherland’

Volume Control – The castle above a sergeant’s stripes that indicated that they were a staff sergeant.

Vomit Comet – a derogatory nickname for the C47 Dakota transport plane.

Voorste Posisie Af! –  This is supposed to be “Voorsteun Posisie Af!” as in “Front Support Position.” This was flat on the ground in preparation for doing pushups.

Voort – forward

Voorwarts Mars – Afrikaans command for Forward march!

Vorm D – The “D” Formation. Used for anti riot operations.

Vrot – Bad, rotten, putrid, sometimes referring to being drunk.



Warrant – abridged address form for the rank of Warrant Officer ( SAAF, SAN and SA Police ).

Wannabe – someone who did not serve or embelishes his service somewhat … a fake.

Wasp – Westland Wasp Helicopter

Water breek  – A water break usually used to take a smoke break

Web Belt – The general purpose belt  and the the basis of a stripped down webbing

Weerman – Private

Wena – Zulu origin meaning ‘you’

Wet – Navy….An alcoholic drink of any “lets go and have a wet”

When-we’s – Rhodesian expats

White gold- toilet paper

Windgat – cheecky or arrogant

Wors – sausage

Woes – wild, untidy, unkempt, unruly, agitated

Wolf- similar to a Casspir

WSK – Army Sports Complex

Wussies – whimps

Wyk – area





Yatti – strip of cleared ground 5 kilometres north and south of the SWA / Angola international border; originally demarcating a foot and mouth disease control corridor.

Yebo – Zulu origin meaning ‘yes’

Yellow Mellow – Township nickname given to Police Casspir vehicles because of their yellow paint

Ysterbaadjie – SAP Uniform Branch member; derived from the tunic worn ( SA Police slang ).

Ystervark – ( Porcupine ) light anti-aircraft gun mounted on a modified Bulldog APC chassis.



Zaarm – A sandwich.

Zol – Handmade marijuana cigarette rolled with old newspaper or paper.



2,4 – “Two comma four” kilometer run – The standard army fitness test.

40 days – Based on the popular song by Cliff Richard, it referred to the long awaited time when a soldier had 40 days left before demobilizing.

50 Browning – Pronounced “five oh”. The .50 Cal Browning heavy machine gun.

1000 ft colour/illumination flare-hand held

B 25 – radio

A 53 – VHF radio

A 72 – ground to air radio