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Military History Vocabulary

Guess these words and phrases from military history. To make it easier, we give you the first letter.
Quiz by Quizmaster
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First submittedOctober 30, 2015
Last updatedJuly 22, 2019
Times taken15,584
Rating4.81
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Definition
Letter
Word
A knight's assistant
S
Squire
A pilot who shoots down 5 enemy aircraft
A
Ace
Type of sword used by samurai
K
Katana
Group of about 5,000 Roman soldiers
L
Legion
German "lightning war" during WWII
B
Blitzkrieg
Self-propelled missile which travels underwater
T
Torpedo
Blade attached to the end of a firearm
B
Bayonet
Rectangular formation of spearmen in ancient Greece
P
Phalanx
Either a large Scottish sword or a U.S. land mine
C
Claymore
Powerful type of catapult from the Middle Ages
T
Trebuchet
Most powerful type of warship prior to the aircraft carrier
B
Battleship
Combatant who uses irregular tactics to fight a larger, more powerful force
G
Guerrilla
Type of firearm commonly used from 1600 to about 1850
M
Musket
Firearm that replaced the above. Has grooves to "spin" the bullet
R
Rifle
Very long spear. Once the favorite weapon of the Swiss
P
Pike
Flammable liquid that sticks to the skin. Invented by the U.S. in 1942
N
Napalm
Byzantine weapon similar to the above
G
Greek Fire
Warship propelled by rows of oarsmen
G
Galley
Powerful, easy-to-use bow that fires bolts
C
Crossbow
Combat engineer. Originally a trench digger
S
Sapper
A victory that is so costly it is like a defeat
P
Pyrrhic Victory
+1
level 75
Nov 26, 2015
Good stuff, thanks for making this.
+2
level 82
Nov 28, 2015
"Easy to use" crossbow? Only in the same sense that a flintlock musket is easy to use if someone has done all the work of preparation for you. The modern hunting crossbow is significantly different than the models used for warfare in centuries past. A very lethal weapon is the hands of an experienced warrior, but a crossbow takes years of experience to become a truly effective weapon.
+2
level 77
Dec 10, 2015
Easier to fire accurately and with lethal force. Difficult to load and get ready to fire.
+3
level 75
Dec 10, 2015
Usually the crossbow is considered to be easy to master compared to the longbow. In the 100-years war, for example, it apparently only took a few months to train peasants to use crossbows effectively in battle, while it took about 10 years to master the longbow. I'm just guessing here, but maybe that's what the question eludes to?
+2
level 59
Dec 10, 2015
Probably because you don't need to hold a 120 pound draw string on a crossbow.
+2
level ∞
Dec 10, 2015
@tielenhei87. Yes, exactly.
+1
level 82
Nov 28, 2015
Also, wonderful quiz! I enjoyed the range of knowledge. Not too obvious, not too obscure.
+1
level 39
Dec 7, 2015
A sapper was actually one of a group of people who dug TUNNELS under walls during ancient/medieval times for the purpose of eliminating the wall's foundation, causing it to come crashing down. Then a bunch of men with swords and stuff ran in and killed everyone! Yay! :D Great quiz.
+2
level 58
Dec 10, 2015
Not quite - the tunnel digging was an extension of the original task of using trenches to allow weapons to be brought to bear on difficult to reach enemy positions. In common usage they are thought of as tunnel diggers, but originally they were trench diggers. A modern sapper is really a general term for an military engineer.
+1
level 37
Dec 10, 2015
Any particular reason why polearm is not acceptable for pike?
+2
level ∞
Dec 10, 2015
A polearm isn't a very long spear. Pikes were about 20 feet long. Polearms are about the length of a normal spear.
+1
level 67
Apr 25, 2018
I typed polearm before I thought of pike, even knowing that it was a class of weapon rather than a specific type. Being a D&D player, my brain instantly started pumping out all sorts of spear-type weapons, so it took a bit to sort through for the right one.
+1
level 26
Dec 12, 2015
Awesome quiz! One of the best I have taken in a while.
+1
level 56
Nov 14, 2016
I originally guessed "Seabee" for combat engineer. In the Navy the construction and build teams were shortened to C&B and people started calling them CB's for short and that eventually morphed into sea bees. That's why if you're a naval construction and build team member your patch will have a bee on it. Although I am not certain if construction and build team is the same as combat engineer although they both build stuff.
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
Interesting. Funny how quickly words can alter, and terms can arise
+1
level 47
Feb 5, 2018
100% first try 1:31 left :)
+1
level 63
Apr 22, 2018
Now, now, no bragging.
+1
level 77
Apr 25, 2018
This really was very easy for someone interested in ancient warfare. Needs a more challenging part 2.
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
All the quizzes on this site are easy for the people interested in that specific subject. I think a quiz getting an average of 15/21 has a good range. (though I didnt find it hard either but wouldnt call it too easy in general)
+3
level 56
Apr 25, 2018
Thank you Sid Meier's Civilization
+1
level 59
Apr 25, 2018
Thank you Age of Empires II
+1
level 65
Apr 25, 2018
Isn't a "galley" a ship's kitchen? I think you mean "galleon"?
+2
level 33
Apr 25, 2018
no the quiz maker is correct as per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galley
+1
level 67
Apr 25, 2018
That's why those operating the oars were called "galley slaves."
+1
level 35
Apr 25, 2018
I absolutely refuse to believe that SIX out of ten people knew that a Middle Ages catapult was called a trebuchet. I consider myself reasonably intelligent and I'd never even heard the word before in my sixty years. Remember folks, when you cheat by googling this stuff, you're only cheating yourself.
+1
level 77
Apr 25, 2018
Trebuchets are sometimes used in the "punkin chunkin" contests. There have also been some PBS specials on them. A Scoutmaster who lives near me had his Boy Scouts build one, and the plans on the Internet suggest that he's not the only one.
+2
level 77
Apr 25, 2018
I have heard this word many, many, many, many times in movies, books, computer games, board games, documentaries, etc... I could draw you a picture of one and explain the mechanism for how it works and how it differs from more traditional catapults you might see on Road Runner cartoons or in Ernest Goes To Camp. I think probably 9/10 of my close friends would know what a trebuchet was. Most of them are nerds, sure, but what do you think the profile of the average person who visits a quiz website every day is?
+2
level 67
Apr 25, 2018
Just because a lot of people know something you didn't doesn't mean they cheated. In my 36 years, I've heard the word trebuchet numerous times. I remember building one out of Legos when I was a kid, and have seen them referenced in pop culture, like these two Cul De Sac comic strips. And if so many people cheated, then why do only 1 in 3 know "sapper" or "Pyrrhic victory?"
+3
level 57
Apr 25, 2018
This is just a blind spot for you. Trebuchets are common knowledge. My 8 year old knows about them and can explain how they are different from traditional catapults.
+1
level 44
Apr 25, 2018
Whether you believe it or not, trebuchets are incredibly common knowledge. The fact that you didn't know about them doesn't change that.
+1
level 52
Apr 25, 2018
One of the few things I learned on the History Channel. But I think many of the quiz takers learned it not from googling but from taking the quiz multiple times.
+1
level 77
Apr 25, 2018
I also know what a ballista is :)
+1
level 78
Sep 25, 2019
yeah the guy that gives you coffee in the morning right? ;)
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
lmao hahah yeah that one with the lisp
+1
level 45
Apr 27, 2018
I know trebuchet from Age of Empires
+1
level 60
Apr 27, 2018
So, while it is a somewhat common term, it's also true that this website has a subreddit, meaning quite a lot of the users of this site do frequent reddit. That said, there is a subreddit called r/trebuchetmemes that makes the front page... disturbingly often. That said, comparing it to a catapult is an insult against the clearly superior siege weapon. QM should be ashamed. Seriously though, if you ask probably a solid quarter of reddit's user base about trebuchets, they'll probably be able to recite from memory: "a medieval siege weapon capable of launching a 90kg projectile 300m". Don't question it, the internet is a strange place.
+1
level 50
May 2, 2018
You didn't grow up playing Civilization series then. :)
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
Really? If you know the world catapult why not know the word trebuchet? I am absolutely not surprised 6/10 people know it. Definitely not on a site like this.

And personally I think it is kind of weak to call people cheaters just because you yourself havent heard of a word. If that many people cheated on this quiz, the average wouldnt be as low as 15 (I would have thought it would have been higher, the question werent really tough)

Plus anyone that has watched myhtbusters will have come across it multiple times. Or anyone that likes davinci, or middle ages in general or physics or... well there are tons of ways to be exposed to the word.

+3
level 78
Apr 25, 2018
Spent more time trying to figure out where to put the "h" in pyrrhic than I did on the rest of the quiz.
+3
level 52
Apr 25, 2018
I left the H out and still got credit.
+1
level 44
Apr 25, 2018
Really interesting, thanks!
+1
level 50
May 2, 2018
I don't think you should accept "Blitz" for "Blitzkrieg" as the Blitz refers to the German bombing campaign of Britain in 1940-41.
+1
level 58
Jul 22, 2019
guerrilla should be spelt with two 'r's as it comes from the French 'guerre'
+1
level ∞
Jul 22, 2019
Fixed, thanks!
+1
level 17
Sep 10, 2019
The more correct term for a crossbow missile is a QUERREL, sometimes 'quarrel'. A bolt is fired from a ballista, catapult or onager.
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
Huh what?? unless you know something the rest of the word doesnt, a bolt really is used with a crossbow. And an onager is a donkey ;) But the one you are talking about throws stones not bolts, (which are short metal rods with a bulbous end) since whatever is used for ammo is launched from a bucket or bag so that wouldnt really work with a bunch of rods..

You arent totally wrong though, quarrels are bolts that are used for crossbows (still bolts though) , they specifically refer to the square shaped ones, recognise the word quadruple/quadrant in it? It means 4 sided (square)

+1
level 46
Sep 23, 2019
Would it make it better for history's sake and use the ww1 term for battleships, which was dreadnought?
+1
level 61
Oct 8, 2019
Wow I surprised myself here. Saw military and guessed if I get 1% right it would be a lot.. I know the word army and soldier, but other ranks and terms and tactics, totally clueless. But I guess since it is about historic terms I knew quite a lot (somehow dont really associate these with military, in my mind that is more modern, but I think that is the language barrier and how often you hear think in combination of certain subjects)

I actually only missed the last two ! (and I still see it more (in my head) as warfare terms or combat)