Death Star Canteen – Military Edition


When you’re a newcomer, you have every right to think Hungarians speak in tongues.

To make your life easier, we’ve started a random collection of words and expressions you may never find in a dictionary, but which might provide you with a sense of belonging. Now that we’re in a revolutionary mood, here’s a selection of words made famous by servicemen.


Ukáz – command
Ukáz (ooh-kahz) is originally a Russian word meaning the Czar’s commands. Later it became known as the order of the day, and now it stands for any kind of order you have to obey whether you’re a soldier or just a plain office clerk. Fortunately, if you’re a person with even the slightest bit of power, you might enjoy giving out orders or kiadni az ukázt (kih-ahd-knee ahz ooh-kahzt).

- Could you come home a bit earlier today, hun?

- Can’t do, babes. The boss gave out the ukázt, everyone’s got to stay late.


Kommandózás – commando-ing
Fierce as it sounds, kommandózás (com-ahn-doh-zahsh) is a harmless activity. It simply means watching out for unwanted people. If you see kids seemingly pointlessly wandering around school corridors, they’re usually kommandóznak to alert the others if the teacher comes. Some adults do the same around their workplace.

- Where’s Zoli? Is he around somewhere?

- He’s having lunch. And I have to be here kommandózni to alert him if the boss is back.


Motoros fóka – motorized seal
In the army, when you get anywhere near a motoros fóka (motor-osh foh-kah), you’re on cleaning duty, in charge of mopping the floor. The fóka itself is the cloth, and its motorized version comes with the attached pole. And although we already taught you the word fókázás (foh-kah-zash) in our Christmas issue, in military slang it gets the whole other meaning of mopping.

- At the last in-quarters inspection my sheets weren’t up to standard. So the sergeant put me on motoros fóka duty for a week.

- Mate, that sucks.


Dobbant – to stamp one’s foot
When you stamp your foot in Hungarian, you don’t make a sound or an impatient and slightly frustrated move, but you actually leave. When you dobbant (doh-bahnt) from the army you go AWOL, but you can also dobbant from the premises, from the country, from your job, even from your relationship.

- I haven’t heard about that funny colleague of yours for a while. What’s happened to him?

- He dobbantott 2 weeks ago, and took all the clients’ money with him. The police are searching for him now.

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