Pongo | Slang/Nickname | A member of any branch of the Canadian armed forces. The term originally denoted the genus of anthropoid apes that includes orangutans but evolved in British slang to reference lower ranking members of the British Army. It found popular footing in Canada in the 19th century and remains in use in communities close to military bases across BC. Though its origins suggest it was not the kindest of ways to address a person in uniform, the term is largely benign on this side of the Atlantic, and is even employed self-referentially.

Usage: “The bar in Esquimalt was loaded up with freshly paid pongos last night and things nearly got out of hand…”

There are 3 comments

  1. During my time in the Forces. We in the army where the pongos. While we called the sailors “squids”.

  2. I have much experience in historical work as well as military service, including many years in amphibious warfare. Certainly the 20th Century norm was that “pongo” was naval slang and referred to soldiers or army types in general. I just finished some 40 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and never heard the name applied to other than soldiers. My father was a Second World War officer in the Royal Canadian Navy and he only used the term to refer to soldiers. Perhaps it has re-surfaced recently with a newly expanded meaning but I doubt such a definition has any authority.

  3. “Pongo” is the Canadian Navy nickname for the Canadian Army troopers specifically. The Air Force are called “Pigeons” by the Navy


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