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Politically Incorrect Vietnam War Slang Terms

As American culture becomes more sensitive about the implications of language, expect these politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms to hit the road.

By Erik PasqualePublished 5 years ago 4 min read

As America continues to suffer from the bloat of its military industrial complex and countless veterans suffering from PTSD, its citizenry reevaluates America's relationship with empire and playing at being a global police force. One positive sign of growth is that these politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms are used less often!


Of all the politically incorrect Vietnam war slang terms, "Gook" is the most commonly known and racist. The word's usage dates back to the late 1800s. Its origin is the Korean word for "Korea"– "Hangook." The word was considered so offensive that General Douglas MacArthur ordered American troops never use it because it would be so off-putting for any residents of East Asia to hear.

Hooch Maid

One of the worst sounding politically incorrect Vietnam war slang terms is "hooch maid." It just sounds like it must refer to something bad. Even though "hooch" often means "booze," when it's combined with maid the resulting phrase takes on a lurid feel. The term refers to South Vietnamese women who served as maids in the quarters of American G.I.s.


"Dink" sounds cute, but it's really one of the politically incorrect Vietnam war slang terms. The term made an appearance in the films Apocalypse Now and Platoon. It comes from the French Vietnamese phrase, "beaucoup dinky dau," which means "very crazy." So, to be a "dink" is to be crazy. It was used to describe the North Vietnamese.


Considering the countless lives lost to napalm and the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the young, naked girl fleeing death by fire the term "barbecue" is disgusting beyond words. The term was uttered when armored cavalry units requested that napalm be dropped on a particular area. Gross gross gross!

Crispy Critter

Given the above, it's both infuriating and shocking that one of the politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms used by American troops serving in Vietnam was "crispy critter." Napalm is particularly devastating because it can be carried by the wind and it sticks to the skin, leading to severe burns and even death. There is no limit to man's inhumanity to man. Maybe it's time to revisit the best anti-war movies of all time.

Zipper Head

The term Zipper Head made an appearance in the seminal Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket. It's another of the politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms rooted in the grizzly treatment North Vietnamese soldiers would receive at the hands of American troops serving in Vietnam. If the soldier was shot in the head, their skulls would unfurl like zippers. Additionally, soldiers who were run over by tanks had tread marks that resembled zippers on their heads.


The term "Pinkville" was used to refer to a particular set of small towns in Vietnam that were rose colored on the maps of US troops serving in Vietnam. What makes it one of the worst politically incorrect Vietnam War slang terms is that the term "Pinkville" was used to minimize the horrors of the My Lai Massacre, which saw the execution of between 350 and 500 unarmed civilians and the gang rapes of an unknown number of women and girls.

The incident is one of the infamous historical events often cited as an example of the dangers of, "just following orders." It is a tremendous blight on the conscious of the American military, much like the rest of the Vietnam War—the conflict was largely waged as a proxy war against the Soviet Union and several American administrations lied about the prospect of victoriously emerging from the conflict. It's also for this reasons that so few of the top war films used as political propaganda are about the Vietnam War. It was a war so bad it was hard to make it look good.

Marvin the Arvin

The term "Marvin the Arvin" is derived from the short hand for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnamese Army). It's one of the many politically incorrect Vietnam war slang terms used to refer to South Vietnamese soldiers.

Baby Killer

By some accounts, the image of war veterans coming home only to be called "Baby Killers" by anti-war protestors was created by the right-wing in order to game public support in favor of the war.

While it's true that many people join the military for abhorrent reasons, it's also true that the military actively seeks and manipulates disenfranchised groups to join its ranks. This makes "Baby Killer" a politically incorrect Vietnam war slang term that misrepresents the complexity of the military industrial complex's grip on America.

Idiot Stick

An "Idiot Stick" was one of the politically incorrect Vietnam war slang terms encountered regularly by American G.I.s. It's the yolk, rifle, or any means by which Vietnamese women were able to carry to baskets or buckets of water. Who they calling an idiot?! Not cool.


About the Creator

Erik Pasquale

Lust for libations. Traveler. Lover or words and images.

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