South African Military Dictionary – Glossary of Military Terms

Not for Ourselves, but for Others

Created with Sketch.

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.

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 – Cane spirit (also gin or vodka) 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