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What do Marines call their uniforms?

The United States Marine Corps has a long and storied history dating back to its founding in 1775. Marines take great pride in their service and have many unique traditions, including what they call their uniforms.

Marine Corps Uniforms

The Marine Corps issues several different uniforms for Marines to wear in various situations:

Service Uniforms

The most well-known Marine uniform is the service uniform. This includes the dress blues or dress alphas. The dress blues include the dark blue coat and trousers with a white cover (hat), while the dress alphas feature green trousers and cover.

Utility Uniforms

Utility uniforms are the camouflage fatigues Marines wear in the field and for daily work. These include the MARPAT camouflage in woodland and desert patterns. The Marine Corps developed MARPAT to provide effective camouflage in a variety of environments.

Physical Training Uniform

Marines wear athletic clothing for PT and working out. Typically this includes green shorts or trousers with a green t-shirt and sweatshirt when needed. MARPAT patterns are also authorized for PT in some cases.

Evening Dress Uniforms

For formal occasions, Marines may wear evening dress uniforms. This includes a blue-black jacket with a white shirt and blue trousers for men, and a blue evening dress for women.

What Marines Call Their Uniforms

Just as the Marine Corps has unique uniforms, Marines also have their own nicknames and slang terms for different uniforms:

Uniform Marine Slang Terms
Dress blues Delta Bravos, Deltas
Dress alphas Alphas, Pickle Suits
MARPAT cammies Utilities, Utes, Diggies
PT gear High speeds, green on green
Evening dress Bravos, Blues with a belt

Some examples of Marines using these slang terms include:

  • “Make sure your alphas areinspection ready for tomorrow morning.”
  • “We’ll be wearing utes for the field exercise next week.”
  • “The birthday ball calls for bravos thisyear.”

History Behind the Nicknames

Many of the Marine uniform nicknamesoriginate from the phonetic alphabet used by the military. The phonetic words assigned to the letters B, D, and U are the basis for blues, deltas, and utilities.

The term “pickle suit” for the dress alpha uniform comes from its green color resembling that of a pickle. MARPAT camouflage uniforms are nicknamed “diggies” in reference to digital camouflage patterns.

Importance of Uniforms in Marine Culture

Uniforms are an important part of the Marine Corps serving as a symbol of the organization and its values. Keeping uniforms properly maintained and having knowledge of what Marines call them is considered part of good order and discipline.

Using the Marine-specific slang for uniforms reinforces Marines’ strong esprit de corps and shared identity. The nicknames are a unique part of the Marine language that bonds them together.


From the iconic dress blues to camouflage combat utilities, the Marine Corps has several distinctive uniforms. While the services officially refer to them by standard names, Marines commonly use their own nicknames derivedfrom the phonetic alphabet and other sources. Knowing the Marine slang termsfor uniforms is vital to understanding the culture of pride, professionalism, and camaraderie within the Corps.