We Explain All The Standby Universes, Indents And Crabs Of The SAF

“You see that tree over there?”

Some of you might not know it yet, but behind that seemingly innocent question is a saying strong enough to leave even the mightiest of men with a feeling of dread.


As you know, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is filled with all kinds of lingoes and slang that span multiple languages. From misleading terms such as Crabs to sayings such as Standby Universe which just plainly don’t make any sense, how is anyone even able to vaguely remember what any of that means?

Thankfully for you, we here at MustShareNews have broken down some of the most confusing terminology and compiled 25 of them into a list.

Next time you speak to someone currently serving the nation, impress them with these 25 lingoes that don’t mean what you think.

1. Extra

What it means: An informal form of punishment meted out to those that break the rules; extra duties

Perhaps something that most, if not all soldiers are all too familiar with. While the youth of today may see it as meaning over the top or excessive instead, there’s no denying that when you’re wearing green, extra is something you’d best avoid at all cost — unless you don’t mind spending your weekend in camp, that is.

If you’ve served your time before, you’ve definitely received at least one of these.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: Recruit, why you leave your rifle behind? You want extra is it?

2. Sign X

What it means: The act of registering an amount – determined by your Sergeant – of extra duties after being given them

This saying is most commonly used together with extra or – oddly enough – multiples of three. To sign extra would mean to officially add an extra duty as a form of punishment. If your Sergeant were to say sign three, be prepared to burn three of your weekends.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: Bloody hell recruit you dare to talk back to me? Sign three sign three!

3. Drop X

What it means: The amount of push ups you have to do. Now

Perhaps an even more informal form of punishment than signing extras would be the notorious push ups.

…one Sergeant!


From the moment you enter Basic Military Training (BMT), be prepared to hear this awful word at least three times a day. No matter if you’re innocent or not, your Sergeant will definitely find a reason for you to face the floor and drop ten — there is no escape.

Another variation of this saying is knock it down.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: How come this bunk still so dirty? All of you, drop ten!

4. Carry On

What it means: To proceed; usually with push ups

Did you think that even after being told to do push ups that you could do it straight away? Nope, turns out you’re still required to request permission from your Sergeant before doing so — because courtesy and all, we guess.

Upon which you’ll then be allowed to and told to carry on with it.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit: Permission to carry on, Sergeant!

Sergeant: Carry on.

5. Standby Bed

What it means: A bunk inspection conducted while recruits stand in attention next to their beds

Imagine standing completely still as someone inspects your bed, cupboard, floor and well, basically everything in your room — that’s what a standby bed is.


These are usually held to instill a sense of responsibility into new recruits by getting them to tidy their living spaces. However, standby beds are also conducted just before book out timings where Sergeants would threaten to withhold booking out unless the bunk was spotless.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: Platoon, listen up! Later before book out at 1500 hours I’ll conduct standby bed so you all better prepare!

6. Standby Universe

What it means: An even more thorough form of inspection than standby bed; this includes every single item in your possession

Perhaps one of the most universally – see what we did there – hated things to hear when in the army is the standby universe, a step up from standby bed. You’d best hope you never experience one in your lifetime.

Source, Source

Usually held during a theft case, or if someone smokes in the bunk, those involved are to completely empty their belongings as Officers and Sergeants inspect every nook and cranny possible – even under the mattresses and window frames – in order to find the missing item.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: No one want to own up who stole the money right? Okay, very good. Standby universe at 1400 hours!

7. Bobo Shooter

What it means: One who is inept at firing their weapon

Don’t let the cute sounding term fool you, to be called a bobo shooter is not a mantle one should be proud of. This honourific title is only bestowed onto those hilariously incapable of understanding the meaning of accuracy.

To put it simply, if someone calls you this, it means you have bad aim.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: You got see James or not? One bullet also never hit!

Recruit B: Ya, he damn bobo shooter sia.

8. Send Arms

What it means: To return your rifles back to the armskote; usually after returning from the firing range

Short for sending back armoury, to send arms means to return your weapons back to the armskote — a room for weapon storage. What usually follows is queuing for at least 30 minutes just to return your rifle and retrieving your 11B so you can either head for lunch or back to your bunks.

But that doesn’t really matter, what’s most important is you no longer have to sling the bulky rifle over your neck any longer.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Damn tired leh, when can we go back bunk and sleep ah.

Recruit B: Send arms can already lor.

9. Stun

What it means: The act of getting something stolen or swiped away

No, this doesn’t mean to be dazed or astonished — though you might be when your rifle gets stunned.

Usually happening during field camps at night, Sergeants practise this in order to ensure that recruits are aware and in possession of their rifles at all times. So make sure you don’t give them the opportunity to stun your wife.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: How come you sign extra ah?

Recruit B: Sergeant Tan stun my rifle during field camp la!

10. 1206

What it means: A form to acknowledge deductions made to one’s payroll for damaging or losing equipment

Pronounced twelve-oh-six, this innocent looking term isn’t referring to lunch time in the afternoon — not even close.

Just ask any serviceman out there about the dreaded numbers and watch them shudder in fear. As long as you’re wearing green, you best hope you never sign one of these because that would be the deduction of your already meagre salary.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Eh Sergeant, I accidentally lost my rifle strap leh, how?

Sergeant: Sign 1206 lor.

11. Encik

What it means: A term used to address non-commissioned officers; a warrant officer 

If someone’s an officer, how do you address them? Sir, right?

What about those who aren’t officers — you know, the older men who looks as if they’ve been through hell and back. What about those people?

You call them Encik.

It might sound weird at first to you, considering it means uncle in Malay. But very soon, you’ll likely be surrounded by warrant officers once you pass out from BMT and head to your units.

When used in a sentence:
Encik: Okay, you can book out now.

Recruit: Thanks Encik!

12. Rooftop

What it means: A slang used to determine the rank of a high ranking Encik

Army ranks can be confusing — after all, they look mostly alike with the exception of a few different strokes here and there.

So how exactly do you differentiate one from the other?


In the case of Warrant Officers, each promotion grants them an additional pattern on their epaulettes. Because no one actually knows what they’re called, they’re simply referred to as what they resemble the most — rooftops.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Hey, Encik Tan what rank ah? Senior or Chief Warrant Officer?

Recruit B: Dunno leh, must see how many rooftop he got.

13. Crab

What it means: A slang used to determine the rank of a high ranking Officer

Similar to Warrant Officers, high ranking Officers ranging from MAJ to COL are differentiated by the amount of National Coat of Arms on their epaulettes.


But for simplicity sake, these symbols are more affectionately known as crabs instead.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: I heard Major Tan got promoted to Lieutenant Colonel leh!

Recruit B: Ya, he got two crabs now.

14. Chocolate Bar

What it means: A slang used to determine the rank of an Officer


Likewise for junior Officers ranging from 2LT to CPT, their ranks are differentiated by the amount of strokes – or chocolate bars – on their epaulettes.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit: Congrats on your promotion Sir! You finally got another chocolate bar.

Officer: Ya, now my rank look like kit kat already!

15. Indent

What it means: The act of ordering something in advance

As a national serviceman we never really knew how this term came to be — after all, the official definition of the word is the start or position further from the margin than the main part of the text.

But who were we to question how things were run? You want something in the army? Just go indent it.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: I think we don’t really have a lot of recruits going for field camp this time.

Logistics Clerk: Okay, so I’ll only indent one toner then.

16. Double Up

What it means: You’re doing something way too slow and you need to hurry up asap

No, your Sergeant isn’t asking you if you’d like to top up an additional chicken for Astons nor is he overcome in laughter.


If your Sergeant is yelling this at you, it means you’re taking too long to do whatever it is you’re doing and you need to double your efforts.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: Recruit, even my grandmother can run faster than you! Double up, double up!

17. Strength

What it means: The total amount of soldiers currently available

When your Sergeant tells you to count strength, don’t be mistaken, he isn’t asking for a display of your physical prowess.

So stop admiring your biceps and start counting the total number of soldiers standing right in front of you and quickly report it back.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: Okay all fall in already? Recruit Wong, count strength!

18. Water Parade

What it means: A period where everyone is to hydrate themselves by consuming their water

Don’t be fooled, drinking water isn’t as innocent as it seems — the army is even able to make that scary.

Who could ever forget being told to drink 500ml of water in one go back in BMT? Chances are back then, that was an absurdly insane amount of water to drink at once. But you’re in the army, so you have no choice but to do as you’re told.

Half full water bottle, drink up!

When used in a sentence:
Recruit: Sergeant, I really cannot already. Very thirsty.

Sergeant: Okay, okay. Come, we go for water parade now.

19. Admin Attire

What it means: A form of dress style associated with comfort

You’re probably thinking of something along the lines of a business casual attire right now. Admin attire right? Being dressed for an admin job.

Well you’re wrong, it’s actually the complete opposite — picture a green tee with plain black shorts and sandals.


That’s what an admire attire looks like.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Eh how ah, I kena rashes cannot wear the uniform leh.

Recruit B: Wear admin attire lor.

20. White Horse

What it means: The son or nephew of someone extremely powerful; usually a politician

If you were to ever be in the same company as a white horse, count your blessings because your life just became so much easier. Usually related to a high ranking politician, white horses are famous due to the military personnels’ reluctance to upset them less they suffer the consequences.

Who needs unicorns when you can believe in white horses instead?

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: How come that company so good no need go outfield ah?

Recruit B: You dunno meh? They got white horse what! Lee Hsien Loong’s son inside there leh.

21. Blanket Party

What it means: To restrain one with blankets and beat them with blunt objects or barehanded 

Usually done in the middle of the night, blanket parties are a form of hazing or bullying most frequently taking place within the military. The victim is asleep in bed before having a blanket flung over him and held down while others begin raining blows onto him.

The term first became widely known after its portrayal in the movie Full Metal Jacket.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Eh today Thomas’ birthday leh, want to celebrate or not?

Recruit B: Ya, later at night we go blanket party him.

22. Pikachu

What it means: One who is frequently injured; pai ka pai chiu

Just like bobo shooter, another term you most certainly wouldn’t like to be called is Pikachu.

When someone calls you this, they don’t mean you’re adorable like the electric mouse from Pokemon. It’s actually a term used to describe one who is usually injured on a regular basis. The term loosely translates to leg injured arm injured, meaning one is injured all over.

When used in a sentence:
Officer: Huh?! Recruit Sim on MC again?

Sergeant: Ya la, he damn Pikachu one!

23. Zero Fighter

What it means: One who is unable to complete even a single pull up

With the implementation of the new IPPT system, this term is perhaps not as commonly used as it once was.


However, back in the days, the title of zero fighter is granted to those who are unable to achieve even a single pull up — as it was then-necessary during IPPT sessions.

Are you a zero fighter?

When used in a sentence:
Recruit A: Joel got pass his IPPT or not ah?

Recruit B: He zero fighter how to pass?

24. Arrow

What it means: To direct or delegate work to someone other than yourself

Do you recall a time when you were minding your own business doing your own work when suddenly your superior appeared and assigned you an additional task to complete for your boss? You’ve just been arrowed.

Usually seen as something done only by those lazy or unwilling to complete their tasks, we’re pretty sure everyone knows an arrow king in their life.

When used in a sentence:
Recruit: Wa, Sergeant Choy damn arrow king. Every day only know how to ask people to do his work.

25. Never Mind

What it means: Your Sergeant totally minds, don’t let your guard down

Perhaps the most misleading term in the entire list is the dreaded never mind. Whenever you hear your Sergeant say this, you had better be prepared as he’s upset and that means hell is sure to be rained upon you.


Think of it akin to how a girl says she’s fine when in actual fact, she’s not. That’s what it feels like, but in the army instead.

When used in a sentence:
Sergeant: So no one wants to admit right? Never mind, never mind.

Mastering SAF speak

There you have it, 25 of the most misleading SAF lingoes out there. Did you get them right on the first try?

The army can be a strange place with an even stranger language indeed. But with this guide, you’re sure to be able to converse with even the most battle hardened Encik.

Let us know in the comments below what other lingoes are available or if we missed out on any prominent ones.

Featured image from John Edward Lim’s Facebook and Alltimes10s’ YouTube.