Top 36 Slang For Veteran – Meaning & Usage

Veterans, with their unique experiences and stories, have a language all their own. Curious to know the slang that sets them apart? Look no further as we’ve compiled a list of the top slang for veterans that will not only educate but also entertain. So, buckle up and get ready to dive into the world of veteran lingo with us!

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1. Vet

This term is a shortened form of “veteran” and is commonly used to refer to someone who has served in the military.

  • For example, “My dad is a vet who served in the Vietnam War.”
  • A person might say, “Thank you for your service, vet!”
  • In a conversation about military experiences, someone might ask, “Are you a vet too?”

2. Old-timer

This term refers to someone who has been in the military for a long time and has a lot of experience.

  • For instance, “That old-timer has seen it all during his years of service.”
  • In a discussion about military tactics, someone might say, “Old-timers have valuable insights from their years in the field.”
  • A fellow soldier might ask, “Any advice for us young recruits, old-timer?”

3. Warhorse

This term is used to describe a veteran who has been through many battles and has a lot of combat experience.

  • For example, “He’s a warhorse who has seen action in multiple wars.”
  • A military historian might say, “Warhorses played a crucial role in shaping military history.”
  • A soldier might admire a warhorse and say, “I hope to become a warhorse like him one day.”

4. Grizzled

This term refers to a veteran who has weathered the hardships of military service and has a tough and experienced appearance.

  • For instance, “The grizzled soldier had scars and a weathered face from years in the field.”
  • In a conversation about military life, someone might say, “Only the grizzled ones truly understand the sacrifices.”
  • A fellow soldier might ask, “How did you become so grizzled, with all that experience?”

5. Trooper

This term is often used to refer to a veteran who has shown great dedication and resilience in the face of adversity.

  • For example, “She’s a trooper who never gives up, no matter the challenges.”
  • In a discussion about military values, someone might say, “Troopers embody the spirit of never leaving a comrade behind.”
  • A soldier might express admiration and say, “I look up to the troopers who have come before me.”

6. Marine

This is a nickname for a United States Marine. It is thought to have originated from the German nickname “Teufelshunde” given to Marines during World War I.

  • For example, a Marine might say, “Once a Devil Dog, always a Devil Dog.”
  • When referring to a Marine, someone might say, “He’s a tough Devil Dog.”
  • In a discussion about military branches, someone might mention, “The Marines are known as Devil Dogs.”

7. Sailor

This is a slang term for a sailor, often used in a lighthearted or humorous way.

  • For instance, a sailor might joke, “I’m just a lowly swabby, swabbing the decks.”
  • When talking about a sailor, someone might say, “He’s a seasoned swabby.”
  • In a conversation about different military roles, someone might mention, “Sailors are often referred to as swabbies.”

8. Airman

This is a nickname for an Air Force service member. It is often used in a playful or affectionate manner.

  • For example, an Airman might say, “I’m proud to be a flyboy.”
  • When referring to an Air Force member, someone might say, “He’s a skilled flyboy.”
  • In a discussion about military branches, someone might mention, “The Air Force has some of the best flyboys in the world.”

9. Soldier of Fortune

This term refers to a soldier who fights or works for various employers, often for financial gain. It can also imply a sense of adventure and risk.

  • For instance, someone might say, “He’s a soldier of fortune, always seeking the next mission.”
  • When discussing a mercenary, someone might mention, “Soldiers of fortune have a reputation for being skilled and adaptable.”
  • In a conversation about military roles, someone might note, “A soldier of fortune operates independently and takes on assignments from different clients.”

10. Veteran of the trade

This phrase is used to describe someone who is experienced and skilled in a particular field or profession. In the context of a veteran, it refers to their expertise and knowledge gained from years of service.

  • For example, someone might say, “He’s a veteran of the trade, with decades of experience.”
  • When discussing a seasoned pro, someone might mention, “Veterans of the trade have invaluable insights and expertise.”
  • In a conversation about different professions, someone might note, “A veteran of the trade brings a level of skill and knowledge that can only come from years of experience.”

11. Campaigner

This term refers to a veteran who has been through multiple campaigns or battles. It emphasizes their experience and expertise in combat situations.

  • For example, a military historian might write, “The campaigner had seen it all, from the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq.”
  • In a discussion about military strategy, someone might say, “We need the insight of seasoned campaigners to guide our decision-making.”
  • A fellow soldier might praise a campaigner by saying, “I’ve learned so much from that old campaigner. He’s a true leader.”

12. Old soldier

This term is a simple and straightforward way to refer to a veteran. It highlights their long service and experience in the military.

  • For instance, in a war movie, a character might say, “Never underestimate an old soldier. They’ve seen things you can’t imagine.”
  • In a conversation about military history, someone might mention, “The stories of old soldiers are a valuable source of information.”
  • A veteran might introduce themselves by saying, “I’m just an old soldier, but I’ve got a few stories to tell.”

13. Old salt

This term originated in the navy and refers to a veteran sailor. It suggests a person who is wise and skilled in the ways of the sea.

  • For example, in a maritime novel, a character might say, “That old salt knows how to navigate through any storm.”
  • In a discussion about sailing, someone might mention, “Old salts have a wealth of knowledge about the ocean and its dangers.”
  • A sailor might refer to themselves as an old salt, saying, “I’ve spent my whole life at sea. I’m just an old salt, really.”

14. Battle-scarred

This term describes a veteran who has physical or emotional scars from their time in combat. It acknowledges the sacrifices they have made and the challenges they have faced.

  • For instance, in a war documentary, a narrator might say, “These battle-scarred veterans carry the weight of their experiences.”
  • In a conversation about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), someone might mention, “Many battle-scarred soldiers struggle with mental health issues.”
  • A fellow veteran might empathize with a battle-scarred comrade, saying, “We’ve all got our scars, physical and emotional. We’re in this together.”

15. Grunt

This term is often used to refer to a foot soldier or infantryman. It can be a term of endearment or a way to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices of soldiers on the front lines.

  • For example, in a war movie, a character might say, “The grunts are the backbone of any army.”
  • In a discussion about military ranks, someone might explain, “Grunt is a colloquial term for a low-ranking soldier.”
  • A fellow soldier might say, “I may be a grunt, but I’m proud to serve my country.”

16. Flyboy

This term is used to refer to a pilot, especially in the context of the Air Force. It is often used in a lighthearted or affectionate manner.

  • For example, a veteran might say, “Back in my days as a flyboy, we had some wild adventures.”
  • In a conversation about military branches, someone might ask, “Are there any flyboys here who can share their experiences?”
  • A pilot might introduce themselves by saying, “I’m a flyboy who served in the Air Force for 10 years.”

17. Jarhead

This slang term is used to refer to a Marine, often in a friendly or informal way. It originated from the Marine Corps’ distinctive dress uniform, which includes a high collar that resembles a jar.

  • For instance, a Marine might say, “Once a jarhead, always a jarhead.”
  • In a discussion about military service, someone might ask, “Are there any jarheads here who can share their stories?”
  • A veteran might reminisce, “Being a jarhead taught me discipline and resilience.”

18. Squid

This term is used to refer to a sailor, particularly in the Navy. It can be used in a playful or teasing manner.

  • For example, a Navy veteran might say, “I was proud to be a squid during my time in the service.”
  • In a conversation about different military branches, someone might ask, “Do we have any squids here who can share their experiences?”
  • A sailor might introduce themselves by saying, “I’m a squid who served in the Navy for 6 years.”

19. Leatherneck

This slang term is used to refer to a Marine, often emphasizing their toughness and resilience. It originated from the high, stiff collars on the Marine Corps’ dress uniforms, which were made of leather.

  • For instance, a Marine might say, “Once a leatherneck, always a leatherneck.”
  • In a discussion about military service, someone might ask, “Are there any leathernecks here who can share their stories?”
  • A veteran might reminisce, “Being a leatherneck taught me the importance of brotherhood and honor.”

20. Zoomie

This term is used to refer to an officer in the Air Force. It is often used in a lighthearted or affectionate manner.

  • For example, an Air Force veteran might say, “I was proud to be a zoomie during my time in the service.”
  • In a conversation about military branches, someone might ask, “Do we have any zoomies here who can share their experiences?”
  • An Air Force officer might introduce themselves by saying, “I’m a zoomie who served in the Air Force for 8 years.”

21. Coastie

This term is used to refer to a member of the United States Coast Guard. It is a nickname given to those who serve in this branch of the military.

  • For example, a Coast Guard veteran might say, “I’m proud to be a Coastie.”
  • In a conversation about military service, someone might ask, “Did you ever serve as a Coastie?”
  • A person discussing different branches of the military might mention, “Coasties have a unique role in protecting our shores.”

22. Devil Dog

This term is used to refer to a United States Marine. It is a nickname that is often associated with the Marine Corps and its members.

  • For instance, a Marine might say, “Once a Devil Dog, always a Devil Dog.”
  • In a conversation about military service, someone might ask, “Are you a Devil Dog?”
  • A person discussing the Marine Corps might mention, “Devil Dogs are known for their toughness and resilience.”

23. Top Gun

This term is used to describe a highly skilled pilot, particularly in the context of the United States Navy. It is often associated with excellence in aviation and aerial combat.

  • For example, in a discussion about fighter pilots, someone might say, “He’s a Top Gun.”
  • A person discussing naval aviation might mention, “Top Guns are trained to be the best of the best.”
  • In a conversation about military achievements, someone might ask, “Have you ever met a Top Gun?”

24. Bravo

This term is used as a compliment or expression of approval. It can be used to acknowledge someone’s accomplishments or actions.

  • For instance, after completing a difficult mission, a fellow soldier might say, “Bravo, well done.”
  • In a conversation about military achievements, someone might say, “That was a Bravo performance.”
  • A person discussing military teamwork might mention, “It takes Bravo individuals to achieve success.”

25. Ironsides

This term is used to describe a soldier who is tough and resilient. It implies strength and durability in the face of adversity.

  • For example, a fellow soldier might say, “He’s an Ironsides, always pushing through.”
  • In a conversation about military service, someone might ask, “Have you ever met an Ironsides?”
  • A person discussing the qualities of a good soldier might mention, “Ironsides are the backbone of our military.”

26. Recon

This term refers to the military practice of gathering information about enemy forces or the environment. In slang, it often refers to a soldier or unit specialized in gathering intelligence and conducting covert operations.

  • For example, a veteran might say, “I was part of a recon unit during my time in the military.”
  • In a discussion about military tactics, someone might mention, “Recon plays a crucial role in understanding the enemy’s movements.”
  • A soldier might recount a mission, saying, “We were sent on a recon mission to gather intel on enemy positions.”

27. Sniper

A sniper is a highly trained marksman who engages targets from a concealed position, often from a long distance. Snipers are known for their precision and ability to take out key targets.

  • For instance, in a war movie, a character might say, “We need a sniper to take out that enemy sniper.”
  • In a discussion about military tactics, someone might comment, “Snipers provide valuable support by taking out high-value targets.”
  • A veteran might share their experience, saying, “I served as a sniper and had to make split-second decisions on the battlefield.”

28. Paratrooper

A paratrooper is a soldier trained to parachute into combat zones. They are known for their ability to quickly deploy into enemy territory and conduct operations from the air.

  • For example, a veteran might say, “I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.”
  • In a discussion about military units, someone might mention, “Paratroopers are highly skilled and undergo rigorous training.”
  • A soldier might recount their experience, saying, “Jumping out of a plane as a paratrooper was both thrilling and nerve-wracking.”

29. Tanker

A tanker is a soldier who operates tanks or other armored vehicles. They are responsible for maneuvering and engaging enemy forces using armored firepower.

  • For instance, in a conversation about military roles, someone might say, “Tankers play a vital role in armored warfare.”
  • In a discussion about military equipment, a veteran might comment, “I served as a tanker and operated various tanks.”
  • A soldier might share their experience, saying, “Being a tanker requires both technical skills and the ability to work as a team.”

30. Gunner

A gunner is a member of a crew responsible for operating and firing a weapon system, such as a machine gun or artillery piece. They are skilled in handling and aiming weapons for maximum effectiveness.

  • For example, in a discussion about military roles, someone might say, “The gunner is in charge of suppressing enemy fire.”
  • During a mission, a soldier might shout, “Gunner, open fire!”
  • A veteran might share their experience, saying, “I served as a gunner and operated various weapons systems.”

31. Sapper

A sapper is a soldier who specializes in engineering tasks such as building and repairing structures, clearing obstacles, and laying or defusing explosives. The term “sapper” is often used to refer to combat engineers in the military.

  • For example, during a military operation, a commander might say, “Send in the sappers to clear the path.”
  • A veteran might reminisce, “I was proud to serve as a sapper and contribute to the mission.”
  • In a conversation about military roles, someone might ask, “What’s the difference between a sapper and a regular infantry soldier?”

32. Medic

A medic is a military healthcare professional who provides medical treatment and care to injured soldiers on the battlefield or in a military medical facility. Medics are trained to provide emergency medical care and stabilize wounded personnel until they can be transported to a higher level of care.

  • For instance, during combat, a medic might administer first aid to a soldier who has been injured.
  • A veteran might share a story, “Our medic saved countless lives during our deployment.”
  • In a discussion about military healthcare, someone might ask, “What kind of training do medics receive?”

33. Doc

“Doc” is a term used to refer to a Navy corpsman, a medical professional who provides healthcare services to sailors and Marines. Corpsmen are trained in combat medicine and often serve with Marine Corps units, providing medical support in the field.

  • For example, a Marine might call out, “Hey, Doc, I need your help over here!”
  • A veteran might say, “Our corpsman was like a guardian angel, always there to take care of us.”
  • In a conversation about military terminology, someone might ask, “Why are Navy medics called ‘Docs’?”

34. Bravo Zulu

“Bravo Zulu” is a naval signal meaning “Well Done” or “Good Job.” It is used to express appreciation or praise for a job well done by an individual or a team. The term is often used in the military to acknowledge exceptional performance or achievements.

  • For instance, a commanding officer might say, “Bravo Zulu to all the troops for completing the mission successfully.”
  • A veteran might use the term to congratulate a fellow servicemember, “Bravo Zulu on your promotion, well-deserved!”
  • In a discussion about military culture, someone might ask, “What other military phrases are used to express appreciation?”

35. Hooah

“Hooah” is a motivational expression commonly used in the U.S. Army. It is used to convey enthusiasm, agreement, or affirmation. The term is often shouted or said with emphasis to boost morale and show solidarity among soldiers.

  • For example, during a military drill, soldiers might shout, “Hooah!” to show their energy and commitment.
  • A veteran might use the term as a greeting, saying, “Hooah, how are you doing?”
  • In a conversation about military culture, someone might ask, “What does ‘Hooah’ actually mean?”

36. Protector

This term refers to a veteran who has served in the military and is seen as a protector or defender of their country. It highlights the bravery and dedication of veterans in safeguarding their nation.

  • For example, a person might say, “Thank you to all the protectors who have served our country.”
  • In a discussion about military service, someone might mention, “Veterans are the true protectors of our freedom.”
  • A tribute to veterans might include the phrase, “We honor the protectors who have sacrificed for our nation.”
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