AIR: You've Had It

Officers of the U.S. Air Forces, ending their first year in Britain, had learned combat lessons from the Royal Air Force. They had also learned a new lingo.

Even the U.S. War Department took cognizance of British flyers' slang, solemnly announcing that "rhubarb" means "a target of opportunity." When a fighter pilot flies low over France, strafing whatever he finds — trains, troops, airdromes —he is "on a rhubarb."

How much R.A.F. slang will seep into the dictionary is a lexicographer's guess, but some of its catchier terms have already been adopted by groundlings. Among thousands of Americans, "browned off" already...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!