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Quiz about Origins of Military Words and Phrases
Quiz about Origins of Military Words and Phrases

Origins of Military Words and Phrases Quiz


Can you identify the true origin of well known phrases or words that sprang from military or naval backgrounds? Remember that usage may have altered since the word or phrase was first used.

A multiple-choice quiz by Simon_Templar. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
253,858
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
3297
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 1 (9/10), Guest 168 (8/10), woodychandler (8/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. What is the military origin of the word "aloof"? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. What is the military origin of the phrase "swinging the lead"? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. What is the military origin of the phrase "run the gauntlet"? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. What is the military origin of the word "grenade"? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. What is the military origin of the word "deadline"? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. What is the military origin of the phrase "cut and run"? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. What is the military origin of the phrase "biting the bullet"? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. What is the military popularly misconceived origin of the phrase "to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. What is the military origin of the phrase "the balloon's gone up"? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. What is the military origin of the phrase "at full tilt"? Hint



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Most Recent Scores
Feb 26 2024 : Guest 1: 9/10
Feb 07 2024 : Guest 168: 8/10
Feb 06 2024 : woodychandler: 8/10
Feb 03 2024 : Rudy2222: 3/10
Jan 22 2024 : Guest 161: 4/10
Jan 10 2024 : Guest 1: 7/10
Jan 09 2024 : Snowman: 7/10

Score Distribution

quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. What is the military origin of the word "aloof"?

Answer: Derived from the order to the helmsman to steer away from a hazard by steering to the windward quarter or "luff"

If a sailing ship was being blown towards a hazard, the captain would issue the order to the helmsman to "steer aloof". This would be to turn the ship to the windward quarter, which was then called the "luff", in order to sail away from the hazard.
2. What is the military origin of the phrase "swinging the lead"?

Answer: Measuring depth by lowering a lead weight on a measured rope over the side of a ship

The leadsman's job was to measure depth by lowering a lead weight over the side of a vessel and noting the length of line that went out. An idle or lazy leadsman could extend this less than arduous task by simply swinging the lead over the side of the ship. Hence instead of doing his job he was "swinging the lead" i.e. being lazy.
3. What is the military origin of the phrase "run the gauntlet"?

Answer: Swedish crew would form two facing lines and thrash a miscreant amongst them with ropes as he ran between the two lines

"To run the gauntlet" was first used in the 30 years' war (1618-1648) involving most of Europes major powers and which was fought largely on what is now German soil. The word "gauntlet" was then spelt "gantlope" from the Swedish words "gata", meaning "a lane", and "lopp" meaning "a course".

It was common practice in the Swedish armed forces of the time for a colleague to be punished for a misdemeanor by having to run the length between two lines of colleagues who would whip him with ropes as he passed them by.
4. What is the military origin of the word "grenade"?

Answer: It derives from its similarity to a fruit called the "pomegranate"

The first grenades were constructed in the 1500s in China. They were typically ceramic or glass encased balls filled with gunpowder and with a short fuse. It was the shrapnel that flew from them that reminded victims of the countless seeds inside a pomegranate. It was the French who first coined the term "grenade" from the old French "pome grenate".
5. What is the military origin of the word "deadline"?

Answer: In the American Civil War prisoners would be shot on sight if they stepped over a line marked on the ground near a perimeter fence - this was the "deadline"

This is an American Civil War term. A demarkation line was drawn on the ground between 20 and 50 feet inside the perimeter fence of a prison. All prisoners were made aware that crossing this line put them at risk of being shot on sight by the guards.
6. What is the military origin of the phrase "cut and run"?

Answer: When at anchor and subjected to an attack the captain would order the anchor line to be cut in order to escape rapidly

A ship at anchor could not depart speedily when the anchor had to be wound aboard by hand. So to cut free when under attack, or in danger from a fire ship, the order would be given to "cut and run" with the wind, leaving the anchor behind on the sea bed.
7. What is the military origin of the phrase "biting the bullet"?

Answer: Battlefield soldiers would brace themselves for the agony of a non-anaesthetised operation in the field by biting on the soft lead of a bullet

Anaesthetics were not often available at the time that medical operations had to be performed in the field. The subject of the operation would literally bite upon a bullet in an effort to alleviate the agony of such an operation.
8. What is the military popularly misconceived origin of the phrase "to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"?

Answer: A "brass monkey" was a large triangular brass plate with holes in it upon which naval cannonballs would be piled. In cold weather the brass would contract and the cannonballs fall

Cannonballs would be stored by the gun on a triangular "brass monkey". In extreme cold conditions the brass would contract to a larger extent than the cannonballs and the pyramid of cannonballs would collapse. Hence it's cold enough to "freeze the balls off a brass monkey".
9. What is the military origin of the phrase "the balloon's gone up"?

Answer: In the First World War a balloon would be launched to signal the start of an offensive

It is true that one way of mass signalling orders to commence an offensive was by means of raising a balloon. All sides in the First World War would use this simple but effective signalling technique.
10. What is the military origin of the phrase "at full tilt"?

Answer: Derived from the days of jousting. The "tilt" was the long barrier seperating the two combatants

The phrase "at full tilt" is derived from the old English words "Tealt" or "Tylte". Jousting as we know it today was then known as "tilting". To ensure a steady line of approach between the two riders there would be a fence or hedge along the line of the run. This line was the "tilt".
Source: Author Simon_Templar

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor Beatka before going online.
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