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Military parlance

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In the various military-style service organizations throughout the galaxy, and probably beyond, military parlance is the unique forms of speech of the servicepeople in the common agency or service organization.

All hands

All hands is a collective term for all crewmembers aboard a starship or starbase. A shipwide announcement may be addressed to "all hands." A ship that has been lost with no survivors is said to have been "lost with all hands."

In 2368, when the USS Enterprise-D was trapped in a temporal causality loop, Captain Picard ordered all hands to abandon ship just before a warp core breach. (TNG: "Cause and Effect")

"Brace for impact"

"Brace for impact" was an alert usually declared from the bridge of a starship, before it achieved an impact that the inertial dampers could not adequately compensate for. When this alert was sounded, usually through the order of the captain or first officer, all hands were to secure their stations and prepare for impact. This alert was also used when the inertial dampers could not sufficiently level out the ship and a possible collision with an interstellar object was imminent. (This alert could also be used to warn a ship's crew of possible emergency landing procedures)

In 2369, Benjamin Sisko told Kira Nerys, Julian Bashir, and Kai Opaka to brace for impact before the USS Yangtzee Kiang crashed on the moon of the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis. (DS9: "Battle Lines")

In 2371, Commander William T. Riker warned the crew of the USS Enterprise-D to brace for impact when the secondary hull was breached and necessitated an emergency landing of the saucer section (primary hull) on the surface of the planet Veridian III. (Star Trek Generations)

In 2374, Martok told the IKS Rotarran crew to brace for impact when it appeared a Jem'Hadar fighter was firing on them. In fact, Alexander Rozhenko had confused the reading with a battle simulation. (DS9: "Sons and Daughters")

Captain Kathryn Janeway warned the crew of the USS Voyager to brace for impact in 2375 when the ship was attempting to escape from the the Void through its vortex by riding the incoming shock wave from the vessel's aft. (VOY: "Night")

Later in the same year, Voyager was thrown out of a quantum slipstream corridor and headed to a nearby L-class planet to make an emergency landing. When Janeway realized they were coming in too hard, she ordered her crew to brace for impact. (VOY: "Timeless")

Captain Jean-Luc Picard warned the crew of the USS Enterprise-E to brace for impact when he ordered the ship to ram the Reman warbird Scimitar in 2379. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Cannon fodder

Cannon fodder refers to soldiers who are seen as expendable. The term derives from soldiers who were ordered to charge into the face of artillery fire, which was practically a suicide charge.

During the Dominion War, the Romulan military integrated Reman infantry into its ranks. They were used as shock troops in the most violent encounters, which Picard described as "cannon fodder". (Star Trek Nemesis)

The redshirts are a good example of cannon fodder.


"That's a Starfleet expression for 'get out!'"

- Captain Janeway (VOY: "The Cloud")

Dismissal was usually used as a formal release of a crewmember from an official military function, such as a debriefing or other meeting. The senior officer typically gave such a command.

On board the Federation Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, Captain Janeway used "dismissed" to end her conversations, especially those in her ready room. Neelix once demanded to be let off the ship because he was feeling uncomfortable with the risk the ship was taking. Janeway firmly denied his request and then when Neelix asked "Are we done?", she replied "dismissed." (VOY: "The Cloud")

Users of "dismissed"


Duty was a term that conveyed a sense of moral commitment to someone or something. When someone recognized a duty, they committed themselves to the cause involved without considering the self-interested courses of actions that may have been relevant previously. The first duty of every Starfleet officer was to the truth, whether it was scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth. (TNG: "The First Duty")(VOY: "Fair Trade") The first duty of any captured officer was to attempt escape. (DS9: "'Til Death Do Us Part")

A duty shift was the portion of the day that various scheduled personnel aboard a starship or space station were on duty. The three shift rotation schedule was common in the Federation Starfleet. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; DS9: "The Assignment"; TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I")

Crew evaluations were part of the duties of the senior staff aboard the USS Enterprise-D to discuss candidates for promotion. William T. Riker and Deanna Troi were not fond of writing the required crew evaluation reports. (TNG: "Man of the People", "Lower Decks", "Tapestry")

A starship was on detached duty when it was sent on a special mission, or was "detached", from what it would normally be doing. The USS Enterprise-D was placed on detached duty in 2370, in order to investigate the disappearance and death of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (TNG: "Gambit, Part I")


"Helm, lay in an intercept course and engage at maximum warp."

- Captain John Harriman to Ensign Demora Sulu (Star Trek Generations)

Engage was mostly used as verbal confirmation to an earlier order given to the helmsman about the warp engines or impulse drive. It could also be used as a verb within the order referring to some other technological device, such as a tractor beam. The term execute was also used, namely by Captain Styles, while ordering the USS Excelsior to use its transwarp drive for the first time. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Users of "engage"

Front line

Front line was a military term for the outer-most edge of combat in war. It is often shortened as "front", which centers around a specific geographic location, such as the "Bolian front", "Vulcan front", or "Chin'toka front". (ENT: "Storm Front")

Three months into the Dominion War in 2374, Benjamin Sisko told Jadzia Dax that he hoped the USS Defiant would be sent back to the front lines. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")

Vulcan was one of the nearest major Federation planets to the front lines, as was the Kotanka system. The Federation pulled the Second and Fifth Fleets from these lines in 2374. Gul Dukat later pulled several Dominion ships from the front lines soon after. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")

The Bolarus system was also on the front lines. (DS9: "Penumbra")

The Rutharian sector was considered a long way from the front lines in 2374, whereas AR-558 was considered to be on the front lines in 2375. (DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice", "The Siege of AR-558")

After it was taken by the Federation Alliance, the Chin'toka system also became a major front in the war. Before the Second Battle of Chin'toka, Weyoun expressed his concerns to the Female Changeling that her proximity to the front concerned him. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")

Starfleet regulations state that personnel should be rotated off the front lines after ninety days. (DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")

The USS Destiny arrived at Deep Space 9 in early 2375 for supplies, as they were headed to the front lines of the Kalandra sector. (DS9: "Afterimage")

Vulcan Captain Solok considered DS9 to be "behind the lines", something Benjamin Sisko disagreed with, telling him that the station had seen its "share of action". (DS9: "Take Me Out to the Holosuite")

The USS Defiant traveled to the front lines in early 2375 on a supply run. Julian Bashir took several recordings of Vic Fontaine's songs although the hologram questioned whether or not the troops of the front lines wanted to hear them. Quark was also aboard the Defiant, as he was on a fact-finding mission for Grand Nagus Zek to give a report of life on the front lines. This made Quark uneasy, as he told Ezri Dax that war was not as profitable the closer you are to the front lines. The mission was also the first time Ezri had been to the front lines. (DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")

Late in 2375, the Female Changeling told Thot Pran that "the sooner we can regain the offensive on the front lines, the better." She believed this could be done by accelerating installation of Breen weapons on Dominion ships. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")

Later, during the Battle of Cardassia, Pran told the Female Changeling he felt that the situation demanded his presence on the front lines. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")

Now hear this

Now hear this was a term used to preface shipwide announcements aboard Starfleet starships to call the listener's attention. The announcement may then issue orders to the entire crew or direct an individual crewmember to report to a particular location. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The phrase was used by Captain Jean-Luc Picard on at least two occasions during the Farpoint Mission in 2364 (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") and by an unidentified crewmember on-board the USS Enterprise-D in the alternate timeline in which the Federation was at war with the Klingon Empire. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise")

On report

"I'm putting you on report, in case that means anything anymore."

- Captain Janeway, addressing Chakotay, expresses her predicament of not being able to communicate with Starfleet about personnel issues. (VOY: "Maneuvers")

On report was a term referring to the punishment of a crewmember that enabled them to continue their duties, but with stricter supervision or more regular assessments, similar to being on probation. Regular reports would be filed about the crewmember's performance, usually by his or her superior officer. Being on report might be recorded in one's crew report or personnel file. (VOY: "Maneuvers", VOY: "Meld")

Commander William Riker once told Lieutenant Reginald Barclay that he was tired of seeing his name on report. (TNG: "Hollow Pursuits")

Users of "on report"

Permission to speak freely / frankly

As part of a military organization, lower-ranked officers generally do not have the authority to speak their minds to their superiors. They may be granted it, however, by asking for "permission to speak freely." In some cases, if the officer wishes to speak in a particularly acrimonious manner, this may be amended to "permission to speak frankly." An officer that speaks their mind without first asking for this permission may face penalties such as being placed on report or being charged with insubordination. The commanding officer may choose to either grant the request ("granted") or deny it and, if denied, the lower-ranking officer may again be subject to penalties. The commanding officer may also choose to simply state "always," indicating that they value the opinion of the lower-ranked officer at any time, with no further need to ask for permission. This permission, however, may be withdrawn later. The request for "permission to speak freely" is often accompanied by the commanding officer's rank, or the terms "sir" or "ma'am." In some cases, officers were known to make this request and then simply speak their mind without waiting for the granted permission. It was up to the commanding officer to decide whether or not to enforce a penalty for this.

In the alternate reality split in 2233, Leonard McCoy asked Spock for permission to speak freely following Spock's marooning of James T. Kirk on Delta Vega. Spock stated "I welcome it." (Star Trek) When having dinner with Lyndsay Ballard, Captain Kathryn Janeway told her "We're not on the Bridge, Lyndsay. You have permission to speak freely." Ballard asked if she really meant this, and Janeway replied that she wouldn't have said it if she didn't. (VOY: "Ashes to Ashes")

Users of "Permission to speak freely / frankly"


Sir was a term used by Starfleet and Bajoran officers to address officers of higher rank. Although the term was generally considered to be male specific, it was also used when addressing female officers as well.

Protocol also allowed for its use between officers of identical rank, particularly where one held a higher overall position in a command structure. Upon his promotion to Captain in 2285, Montgomery Scott addressed Captain Styles as "Sir" whilst serving as Chief Engineer under the latter's command aboard the starship USS Excelsior. Scott later addressed his fellow Captains Kirk and Spock as "Sir" when serving with them aboard the Enterprise-A. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, there is at least one instance of a senior officer addressing a junior officer as "Sir," when Admiral Kirk boards the refit Enterprise and requests "Permission to come aboard, Sir" from the Ensign sent to greet him at the airlock. This is consistent with military parlance but probably not required by protocol.

Chief Miles O'Brien called Doctor Julian Bashir "sir" because Bashir was his superior officer. Bashir did not like the term and asked O'Brien if he would call him simply Julian. (DS9: "The Storyteller") The doctor was not the first person to turn down O'Brien's use of the word - in 2367, after he referred to Sergey Rozhenko, Worf's adoptive father, as "sir" upon meeting him, Rozhenko lightheartedly asked his fellow chief petty officer not to use the term, as he had worked for a living. O'Brien also called Commander Sisko "sir". (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses")

Nog adressed Chief O'Brien as "sir" when O'Brien inspected the cargo, self-sealing stem bolts, Nog and Jake Sisko recently traded. (DS9: "Progress") Later, when Nog was beginning his Starfleet Academy training, O'Brien wryly commented that after graduation, he would have to address Nog as "Sir." (DS9: "Facets")

Captain Kathryn Janeway disliked being called "sir;" notwithstanding Starfleet protocol, she preferred to be addressed by her rank. She also accepted "ma'am," but only when the crew was "in a crunch." (VOY: "Caretaker")

While being interrogated by Rear Admiral Brand, ensign Wesley Crusher addressed the female admiral as 'sir'.

After Deanna Troi had passed the Bridge Officer's Test and had been promoted to commander, she told Data, "From now on you can call me Sir". (TNG: "Thine Own Self")

The skeleton crew of the USS Enterprise-D called Doctor Beverly Crusher "sir" in TNG: "Descent", as she was their commanding officer at the time while Picard and the rest of the senior officers were on the surface attempting to retrieve Data. (TNG: "Descent"; TNG: "Descent, Part II")

"Sir" was also used from time to time when speaking to the masters of other vessels. Harry Kim addressed Supervisor Yost in this way. (VOY: "Gravity") Shipboard guests were also to be addressed as "Sir" or "Ma'am," irrespective of status, as shown by Jean-Luc Picard when welcoming Minister Campio aboard the Enterprise-D (TNG: "Cost of Living") and by Tuvok when attending to Neelix in guest quarters on Voyager. (VOY: "Caretaker")

Warning shot

A warning shot is the use of a weapon in the direction of a target, but not intended to hit the target. This can be done for many reasons, but is commonly done to send the message that direct fire will occur if the target does not give an appropriate response. (ENT: "Minefield")

According to Ambassador Soval, Vulcans usually did not fire warning shots. (ENT: "Awakening")

A Type 3 stealth assault involved firing a warning shot at a targeted vessel to force it to comply with the demands of the Hierarchy vessel employing the tactic. (VOY: "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy")

See also

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