Learning Cadet Speak

1st Battalion Quad photo by Stanley Leary

I am now bilingual. I speak English and Citadel parent. It took a while to catch on to the new terms, abbreviations and slang terms, but by my son’s sophomore year I was just about fluent.

A number of  parents of high school seniors are starting their journey to learn about the 4th Class System. A quick look at the search terms leading to this blog tell me there are a good number of new families seeking information.

I’ll post a few terms here. If you are reading this and are the parent or family member of a cadet, please put the terms you’ve learned over the years. You can purchase a copy of the guide book for knobs called The Guidon, or download it here and read about other terms. The Guidon is updated each year and is available online and in the bookstore in Mark Clark Hall on campus.


All in – When all cadets are to be in their room in the barracks.

Black Badge, Red Badge – ROTC pins for cadets who are on an Army or Marine contract.

BVA – Bond Volunteer Aspirant, a junior cadet who wants to be a member of the Summerall Guards.

Brace – a form of attention that knobs must do around any upper class cadet. Try to touch their chin to their spine

Blitz polish or make shine. Brass and shoes can be referred to as being “blitzed out”

Confinements or Cons – punishment for a violation.

Corps Day – a weekend in March to celebrate the founding of the Corps of Cadets.

Division – in the barracks the floors are referred to as divisions, ex. the fourth floor is the 4th division.

El Cid – slang for The Citadel. years ago some cadets cut up a bumper sticker to rearrange the letters. The name stuck.

E.S.P. – Evening Study Period

“Fix your smile” –  refers to the band on your cap.  Keep it down or else you can see a “Smile” of white between the black bill and the white cap.

FTX – Field Training Exercise, usually a weekend trip with the ROTC program.

Gaudy – a term used when a knob or other cadet acts a bit cocky or outrageous

Guidon – a military flag that designates a company or platoon sized group. Each company has a guidon at The Citadel. The clerk (sophomore cadet officer) carries the guidon during the parades. Knobs don’t touch the guidon. Also the name of the book published each year that Knobs have to memorize.

Knobbie mission – when a senior sends a knob to play a prank, usually on another senior.

Knobbie walk – 120 paces a minute

Ombudsperson or Ombudsman – The officials on campus appointed to investigate concerns. A great resource for parents.

Open and Closed weekends – Open means the upper class cadets can go off campus for the night(s) if they don’t have any tours or confinements.  Closed means everyone must be in the barracks at the appointed time each night. You can visit knobs on Open AND Closed weekends.  They will not be on campus FTX weekends.

PT – Physical Training

Press and Full Press – The press is the metal dresser with drawers for folded clothes,  The full press is the closet for hanging clothes.

Quad – the red and white open area of the barracks. See this link for a panoramic view of 1st Battalion (Murray Barracks)

Sallyport – entry gate to the barracks

SMI – Saturday Morning Inspection

Shirt stays – an elastic band that attaches to the bottom of a uniform shirt and to the top of dress socks. It keeps the shirt in place and the socks pulled up.

Sir sandwich – begin and end all answers to an upperclassmen with sir

Spirit Run – Physical training time that takes place with the knobs and the cadre.

Table top – while bracing the knob leans as far back as possible without wavering making them look like a tabletop

TAC officer (Training Advising and Counseling) the staff person usually active duty or retired officer. Each company and battalion has a TAC officer assigned. One point of contact for parents.

Tours – punishment for a violation. walk the Quad with your rifle for one hour = one tour.

Front sallyport of Murray Barracks. photo by Stanley Leary

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