WW1 Authetic Language
Remember that 100 years ago people would have spoken very differently. For your story to 'feel' real you need to inclyjhfhhdhvhkjjjhhfdfords and phrases for the time. All of these words would have been used by British soldiers in the trenches. However, not all of them would have been used by the civilians back in Letchworth. They would have used some of them though; particularly 'hun', 'Boche' and 'Fritz' to describe the Germans. All of which are derogatory terms as they would have despised of them.

Term
Definition
Comments
A-1
British.
By 1916 the British War Office had created an ABC system of classification for the Department of Recruiting. Each category was then graded in a scale of 1 to 3. A-1 men were fit for general service overseas.
Ace
An outstanding pilot, as well as an excellent performer in any field.
At first the term meant simply a fine flier, a "high card" to play against the enemy. Later the French singled out those fliers who had downed at least five enemy planes.
Ack-Ack
Anti-aircraft fire
From the military phonetic alphabet, A-A
Archie
Anti aircraft gun or gunnery.

Attrition, War of
A war in which each side seeks to wear the other out.
Expression comes from WW1. Not used before.
Balloon goes up
The beginning of just about any enterprise.
Originally referring to an observation balloon sent up high to tell gunners to begin firing.
Barrage
An excessive number or quantity.
After the massive artillery barrages of the war which always seemed excessive.
Big Bertha
Huge Krupp 42cm siege guns used to attack the Belgian forts at Liege in the opening of the war; generally applied to large German artillery pieces.
Named for the daughter of Alfred Krupp, German arms manufacturer.
Big Push, The
British reference to 1916 Battle of the Somme.
Later the battle also was know as the Great Cock-Up
Blighty
Home; originally British for England; later a Blighty was a wound which would get one sent home.
Derived from a Hindu word meaning a foreign country and taken up by British troops in India to refer to Britain.
Blimp
A non-rigid airship used for observation.

Blotto
Pre-war slang for drunkenness; during the war it referred to strong liquor.

Boche
Disparaging epithet for anything German.
Used primarily by officers; derives from French caboche = blockhead.
Bonk
To shell with artillery fire.
Usually used in past tense: “being bonked”
Brass Hats
High ranking officers.
British staff officers had a red band around their hats.
Break new ground
To do something not done before.
Probably an reference to digging a new trench.
Bull
Shortened version of Bullshi*.
Slang for unnecessary work, especially cleaning. The notorious British training camp at Etaples was known as the Bullring.
Bully [Beef]
Canned boiled or pickled beef which was a staple with the British Army.

Bunker
Fortification set mostly below ground level with overhead protection.
Probably from coal bunker.
Camouflage
Disguise, pretense; although the expression is still also used in its original sense, describing the special coloring schemes applied to equipment and uniforms to make the object harder to see.
French derivation from comoufler = disguise. Some of the original schemes are thought to have been inspired by the cubists and other modernist painters.
Chat
Nickname for body louse.

Chatting
Conversing in an informal manner.
Lice were sometimes called ‘chats’; Soldiers who spent many an hour removing them from the seams of their clothing passed the time in discussions with their mates. This led to the popularizing of chatting which had been in use since the 16th century.
Chew the fat
To sulk, to be resentful or talk in such a manner; presently means have a discussion.
Has lost the negative connotation since the war.
Chew the rag
To argue endlessly; presently means have a discussion.
Has lost the negative connotation since the war.
Chow
Food; rations; a chow hall is a military dining hall.
Started in the maritime world by 19th Century ship crews who visited the orient. During the Great War it was passed on to the other services.
Coal Scuttle
Nickname for German field helmet used in late WWI and WWII.
So named because the helmets resembled the metal bucket used to carry coal.
Cold feet
To become discourage; possibly linked to trench foot or trench fever.
Some controversy as to how common this usage was during the war.
Conchie
A conscientious objector.

Conk Out
Slang for stopping, failing, passing out or dying.
Originated in the American Air Service, conk being the last sound a reciprocating engine makes before it ceases operating.
Cootie
Slang, body louse.
Brought by British Army from Malaya.
Crummy
Synonymous with lousy.
A reference to the eggs of the lice being like crumbs of bread.
Cushy
Slang for nice, or comfortable, from Urdu kushi ‘pleasure’.
Another Anglo-Indian Army word popularized in WW1.
Dig oneself in
Establish one’s position strongly.
Used to describe digging the trenches. Also referred to as digging in
Dogfight
Air combat at close quarters.
Based on the scrambling, twisting appearance of air warfare from the ground.
Draftee
Conscript soldier.
The aggregate of a call-up cycle became known as a draft, so draftee was the natural term for an individual who had been selected. This in contrast to volunteers or regular [career] soldiers.
Duckboard
A board laid down as a track or floor over wet or muddy ground.
Used for both trench floors and trails across flooded fields.
Dud
A shell or bomb that fails to explode; later, a person or enterprise that proves to be a failure.

Dugout
A rough dwelling in a bank or side of a hill.
Construction of noun from verb phrase dug out.
Fed-Up
Disgusted
First used in Boer War and carried over by British Army
Fritz
Sympathetic nickname for German soldiers by Allies.
From ‘Old Fritz’ a name for Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712- 1786).
Frog
Derogatory term for a Frenchman with 18th Century origins.
From frog eater.
Funk hole
Opening in the trench.
Funk holes were excavated openings on the front walls of trenches where soldiers could retire when not on duty.
Gone West
Slang, To die; fail; decline.
Go west towards the setting sun.
Great War, The
The First World War
Formerly used for the Napoleonic Wars, it was first applied to the events of 1914-1918 in the October 1914 Macleans Magazine
Huns
Derogatory term for German Soldiers.
Kaiser Wilhelm originally associated Germany with the ancient nomadic tribe (the Hun) that plundered much of Europe.
Hush-Hush
Used in WW1 to describe top-secret operations.

Jack Johnson
Large artillery shell.
The power and large amount of dark smoke given off by big shell explosions were reminiscent of black Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson.
Jerry
Sympathetic nickname for German soldiers by Allies.
The British thought the German helmets looked like chamber pots, also known as jeroboams, abbreviated to Jerries.
Kitchener’s Armies
Refers to British enlistees who responded to Lord Kitchener’s 1914 appeal for volunteers.
This group provided the manpower for the disastrous 1916 Battle of the Somme.
Kraut
Derogatory term for anything Germanic.
Short version of German food Sauerkraut.
Lousy
Infested with lice; mean, contemptible, contaminated, unethical, etc.

Maconochie
Canned British ration of beef, potatoes, beans, onions and carrots in gravy.

Mine
Subterranean passage made to extend under an enemy’s works or position for the purpose of securing access or depositing explosives for blowing up a military position.
Used in earlier warfare such as at Petersburg, Virginia in the American Civil War, mines were frequently used on both the Western and Italian Fronts of the Great War.
Napoo
Done, used up; later to kill.
The origin is in the French phrase "il n'y en a plus" meaning "There is (are) no more....."
No-Man’s-Land
The desolate territory between the hundreds of miles of opposing Allied and German trenches.
Dates from the 1300s, when it meant the waste ground between two kingdoms, it did not acquire its military meaning until World War I.
Old bean
Form of addresse which started in the Royal Navy about 1914 and spread to other services.
Old… became a popular form of approval during the war, as with beloved cartoon character Old Bill.
Old Contemptibles
Nickname for British Army regulars who formed the original BEF. Few survived the war.
From the Kaiser’s reference to “General French’s contemptible little army…”
Outfit
A soldier's unit; usually an infantry regiment or artillery battery.
Has Canadian and Australian roots in the 19th century when the term was applied to a travelling party.
Over the top
Going out of one’s trench towards the enemy; in civilian use it was extended to mean taking the final plunge and doing something dangerous or notable.
Popularized by Arthur Guy Empey's use of Over the Top as the title for his popular World War I account.
Pals battalions
For the Kitchener armies, men from the same town or trade were allowed to enlist and serve together.
Potentially catastrophic for a community if a Pals unit took heavy casualties.
Pillbox
Low structure for of reinforced concrete usually enclosing a machine gun.

Pipsqueak
Small, insignificant person; any 2nd Lieutenant; also a small German trench gun.
Coined just before WWI
Plug Street
The Tommy’s nickname for the Belgian village of Ploegsteert.

Pop
The Tommy’s nickname for Poperinghe, a town 8 miles due west of Ypres.
It was the final rail head en route to the front and home of Toc H.
Potato Masher
Nickname for standard German hand grenade; also a nickname for club used in trench raids.
Based on resemblance to the kitchen tool.
Push Up the Daisies
To be killed and buried

Put a sock in it
Telling some one to shut up.

Red Tabs
Slang, British staff officers.
Derived from lapel tabs on uniform blouse of General Staff officers.
Regimental
British. Slang; a mess, a signal failure.
Short for Regimental Foul-Up.
Shell Shock
To suffer from an acute neurasthenic condition due to the explosion of shells or bombs at close quarters.
Early description of Battle Fatigue and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Tin Hat
Slang for British and American model helmet. Battle Bowler was also used by the British forces.

Toc H
Talbot House at Poperinghe.
A refuge for all soldiers regardless of rank, run by two army chaplains Neville Talbot and Philip 'Tubby' Clayton.
Tommy, Tommy Atkins
British frontline soldier.
Goes back to Wellington’s time when the British soldiers’ specimen pay book was made out for Thomas Atkins; usage popularised by Kipling.
Trench Foot
Common disabling problem among WWI soldiers where feet would swell up and ache.
Also called Immersion Syndrome, it is caused by overexposure to cold, damp conditions; and is treated, like chilblains, by rapid warming.
Whiz-bangs
A high speed shell whose sound as it flies through the air arrives almost at the same instant as its explosion; later synonymous with excellent or topnotch.
The purest form of this sound was made by an Austrian Skoda 77mm field piece.
Wipers
The Tommy’s nickname for Ypres and the Salient.

Zero-Hour
Starting time for a military operation; later – critical or decisive time.