New Military Dictionaries

10.12.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

“If you would converse with me,” Voltaire is supposed to have said, “define your terms!”

Several new military dictionaries make it easier to define elusive or obscure military terms.

The Department of Defense has updated (for the second time this year) its massive “Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms,” Joint Publication 1-02, through 17 September 2006 (752 pages, 2.2 MB PDF file).

It explains that a “blast wave,” for example, is “a sharply defined wave of increased pressure rapidly propagated through a surrounding medium from a center of detonation or similar disturbance.”

But what is it in French?

For that one must turn to another new dictionary prepared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which not only defines thousands of military terms (“blowback,” “laser guided weapon,” etc.) but also provides translations into Voltaire’s language.

So, one learns, “blast wave” is “onde de souffle.”

See “NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (English and French),” North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2006 (344 pages, 3.5 MB).

And for good measure there is also a new “NATO Glossary of Abbreviations Used in NATO Documents and Publications,” 2006 (432 pages, 1.4 MB).