Marine Speak

Learn some of the common words and phrases Marines use on a daily basis.

Marine Speak
Posted on 10/29/2022

The Marine Corps has a rich and proud tradition. The countless battle streamers earned by each individual unit is a testament to this fact. There are many things that the Marines do that set them apart from the other branches of service. However, the Marine Corps has always had a long-standing history with the U.S. Navy. This is to be expected, considering that the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy. The United States has a military unlike any other. Specifically, we are fortunate enough to have a maritime tour de force. As such, the Marine Corps and Navy often times operate hand in hand. Consequently, one of the many things that we use in conjunction with the Navy is their terminology.

Much of the language that you might hear a Marine use is based upon terms you'd associate with a ship. For example, even when on land, Marines refer to a wall as a bulkhead. While some of the usages have undoubtedly faded away over the course of time, this tradition is still quite prevalent in boot camp. Recruits refer to windows as portholes, acknowledge orders with an "aye aye", and refer to the restroom as the "head" among other things. So why exactly do Marines use this terminology? As previously mentioned, much of it has to do with tradition. However, commonality while on ship is another big factor. While recent conflicts have taken away much of the need for Marines to utilize ships, there is always a Marine unit on rotation with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). A MEU is simply a quick reactionary force stationed aboard ship that can quickly respond to a crisis. As such, it's important for Marines to understand the language spoken aboard ship.

While language is always changing in the civilian world, the basic tenants of naval terminology seldom change. This can be comforting, considering that Marines and sailors of different generations are linked not only by their service, but by their words.


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