How trench talk changed the English language


The trenches of World War I were the birthplace of many a modern English phrase, notes The Guardian newspaper.

‘Binge’, ‘fed up’, ‘washed out’, ‘cushy’, ‘snapshot’ and ‘bloke’ are among the words the paper lists as having their origins in the conflict.

Many such words originated in regional slang or belonged to certain social groups, but the conflict brought millions of soldiers together to share their language.

Julian Walker, who works at the British Library, told The Daily Telegraph newspaper: ‘The war was a melting plot of classes and nationalities, with people thrown together under conditions of stress.

‘It was a very creative time for language. Soldiers have always had a genius for slang and coming up with terms.

‘This was a citizen army – and also the first really literate army – and at the end of the war, those that survived took their new terms back to the general population.’

The results of the research are included in a new book, Trench Talk: Words of the First World War.

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