Calico India Type of plain woven cloth made from unbleached but not fully processed cotton. The word originates from the city of Calicut, India.
Can Naval Common slang expression meaning to be blamed for the acts or faults of another. The expression may have arisen from the custom in some dockyards of employing a boy to fetch beer from a local public house; this boy was invariably blamed if accounts were unpaid or cans not returned.
Canister Military Iron or tin cylinders, with iron, tin or wood tops and bottoms, filled with bullets packed in sawdust. Formally used as one form of ammunition for muzzle-loading cannon. The fore-runner of "Shrapnel", it was also known as Case Shot.
Canteen Medals Naval Naval name for stains down the front of jumper, jacket or coat caused by food or drink.
Careen Naval To beach a ship and list her so as to expose her bottom for the marine growth to be scraped off. The word comes from an old French word "Carine" meaning the bottom of a ship.
Carrozzin Malta The four-wheeled horse cab found in Malta. It seats four passengers and the driver gives warning of his approach by clanging a gong.
Cash South East Asia and India Copper coinage. From Tamil.
Cash crop Commercial A crop grown to be sold rather than to be consumed.
Cat Naval "Room to swing a cat" Common slang expression meaning the space required for any particular job. This does not refer to the domestic animal, but to the Naval cat-o'-nine' tails (The "Cat").
Cat Naval "The cat is out of the bag" Common slang expression, meaning "The secret is out". From the practice of keeping the Naval cat o' nine tails in a red baize bag and not removing it until the offender was secured to the gratings and there was no possibility of a reprieve.
C.B. Abbreviation Companion of the Bath
C.B.E. Abbreviation Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Cha (char) India / China Tea
Charpoy India Wooden frame bed with webbing.
Chaffer Naval To chaffer up. To smarten up, make extra tidy or "tiddly". The expression comes from the shipwrights' bench, where it means to take off the sharp edge of a piece of wood with a chisel.
Chappal India A sandal.
Chappatti India Unleavened bread.
Chaprassi India Office servant or messenger. Originally from the brass buckle worn on the belt.
Chapplis India Native Sandals.
Charlie Moore Naval An old naval synonym for fair play; from a Maltese innkeeper's sign - "Charlie Moore, the fair thing" (about 1850).
Charpoy India Low, framed bed.
Chartered Company Legal A body of persons associated for the purposes of business, organised and trading under the terms of a charter granted them by the Crown which gives them certain legal rights and privileges.
Chatty Naval An old Naval slang word for dirty, untidy. Most often met in the expression "Happy and chatty".
Chee chee India Derogatory term for Eurasians from their sing song speech patterns.
Cheeks Naval An old nickname for the Royal Marines, derived from the looping up of the tails of their coats.
Chelo India Get a move on!
Cheroot India Native cigar.
Chibberow India Be quiet!
Chi Chak South East Asia Small house lizard.
Chick India Hanging Screen.
Chiko India Child.
China Coaster South East / Far East Asia European with Far Eastern experience. Particularly with regards to sea experience.
Chin chin South East / Far East Asia Salutations from Chinese.
Chinstay Naval The dark blue mohair tape worn beneath the chin in order to keep the cap on in windy weather. When not in use it is worn tucked inside the sailor's cap; the chinstay of a peaked cap is of black patent leather, worn just above the peak (and very seldom worn beneath the chin).
Chintz India Calico cloth printed with flowers and other devices in different colours. The word Chintz comes from Hindi. It is derived from the Sanskrit "chitra" which means many-coloured or speckled.
Chirag India Clay saucers of oil with a wick used as lamps.
Chit India Letter or signed note. Thus chit-shy was someone who avoided paying his round.
Chittak India A measure of less than 2oz.
Chokra India Young man, boy. Also used to describe an inexperienced young Sahib.
Choky India Lock up.
Cholera belt India Flannel girdle worn to try and prevent cholera.
Chowkidar India A guard or watchman.
Chop Chop Far East Chinese pidgin-English for "Hurry up".
Chota India Small. Used as an adjective eg: chota bungalow, chota peg, chota Sahib.
Chow Far East Chinese word for food; often to be met on the lips of officers and men who have at one time served in the Far East.
Chuck NavalNaval slang for a demonstration of applause. Enthusiastic supporters of a ship's football team or a regatta boat's crew form a chucking-up party. The expression may originate from the practice of throwing hats in the air when excited. An early form of this word was CHUCKER UP
Chuckeroo India Youngster.
Chukka India Period of play in polo.
Chummery India Shared household, usually bachelors.
Chung India Platform. Therefore chung bungalow - house on raised platform.
Chunni India A woman's scarf.
Chup India Be quiet.
Churidar India Pyjama trousers worn by men, baggy at the top but tight at the bottom.
C.I.E. Abbreviation Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire
Civil lines India Area of military station inhabited by civilians.
Civil List Warrant or order of precedence.
Civvy Street MilitaryCommon slang expression meaning civilian life.
C.M.G. Abbreviation Commander of the Order of St. Michael & St. George
Class regiment India Indian army regiment drawn from one racial group. Usually those groups that were loyal to Britain during the mutiny: Gurkhas or Sikhs.
Club India Usually a private gymkhana or polo club owned by members and with a restricted membership.
Commando Afrikaner A small mobile force recruited from the local Boer population.
Common Law Legal The unwritten law of the realm of England deriving from customary alws of the Anglo-Saxo peoples, embodied in the decisions of the judges of the Common Law Courts, and distinct from written or statute law.
Compound India Enclosed area surrounding bungalow and servants quarters.
Comprador South East / Far East Asia Buyer, steward. Often used to describe the Chinese manager of a Hong.
Concession Far East Asia Chinese treaty port open to foreigners.
Confederation Administrative A country or territory made up of the union of smaller states or colonies.
Contraband Legal Those goods which by the laws of a particular State may not be imported or exported, bought or sold: goods which neutral ships may not carry during war to any of the countries at war.
Collector India Chief administrator of a district. Originally a collector of revenue.
Congress India Principal Indian national political party.
Conjie house India Jail.
Coolie India / South East / Far East Asia Labourer paid on a daily basis.
Coorta India A muslim woman's clothes.
Corporal Forbes India Cholera Morbus.
Country born India Europeans born in India.
Country bred India European educated in India. (Derogatory term)
Covenanted servants India Usually ICS, those who worked for the Secretary State of India.
Coxswain NavalOriginally the officer ("Sweyne") in charge of a COG - i.e. the Cog's Sweyne.
CP India Central Provinces
Crab India Stomach pain
Creeper Ceylon / South East Asia Trainee assistant on tea or rubber plantation.
C.S.I. Abbreviation Commander of the Star of India
Cummerbund India Waistbelt.
Cumshaw Far East Chinese pidgin-English for a tip. When used as an adjective or adverb the word means free.
Curfew Legal Restriction which means people have to stay in their homes at certain times.
Curl NavalThe curl in the upper stripe of gold lace worn on an officer's sleeve. Introduced in 1864 for executive officers only, it was extended to Engineers, Paymasters, Doctors in 1918.
Curry and rice days India Nineteenth century (from book title).
Cushy India Easy
Cutcherry India Court of law for civil offences
C.V.O. Abbreviation Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Czapka Army a helmet of Polish origin which was adopted by lancer regiments throughout the world