Glossary of Terms

The information contained herein is quoted from Social Usage and Protocol Handbook: A Guide for Personnel of the U.S. Navy (OPNAVINST 1710.7 dated 17 JUL 1979)

AccreditationAn official presentation of credentials by foreign diplomats (to include military attaches) to the host government, thereby establishing a date of precedence within that country’s diplomatic or attache corps.
AttacheA technical expert on the diplomatic staff of his country at a foreign capital. A naval attache is his/her Navy’s representative to a foreign nation.
Black TieFormal attire, generally not worn before 6:00 P.M.
Military-Dinner Dress Blue Jacket
Civilian-A dinner jacket or tuxedo for men and formal dress for women.
Calling CardA small card bearing the name and title/rank of an individual and used socially. Calling card may be sent with flowers or gifts, as bearers of short messages.
CanapesAn appetizer consisting of a piece of bread or toast, or a cracker topped with a savory spread.
Casual AttireAttire which is never more formal than a sports coat or leisure suit for men and slacks or casual skirts for women.
Charge”To Charge” one’s glass is an expression used at Dining-ins meaning to fill one’s glass to capacity.
Charge d’AffairesThe officer in charge of diplomatic business in the absence of the ambassador or minister.
ChristeningA ceremony in which a naval vessel is named by a sponsor who breaks a bottle of wine against the ship’s bow as the ship slides into the water.
Cocktail PartyAn informal gathering featuring a stand-up buffet in which there is no receiving line.
ColorsNational ensign; distinguishing flag flown to indicate a ship’s nationality. Naval ceremonies are performed when the national flag is hoisted at eight o’clock in the morning and hauled down at sunset.
CommissionTo activate a ship or station; written order giving an officer rank and authority.
Ceremonies during which a new ship is placed in service. Captain of the yard or delegated representative of commandant reads orders for delivery of ship, attention is sounded on bugle, National Anthem is played, ensign, commission pennant, and jack are hoisted simultaneously. The officer ordered to command the ship reads his orders from Navy Department and orders his executive officer to set the watch. Full dress uniform is usually worn by officers. It is customary to invite friends of officers and others interested to attend the ceremony, along with the sponsor who christened the ship.
Commission pennant is the distinctive mark of a vessel of war adopted by all nations. It is blue at the hoist, with a union of seven white stars; it is red and white at the fly, in two horizontal stripes. The number of stars has no special significance but was arbitrarily selected as providing the most suitable display. The pennant is flown at the main by vessels not carrying flag officers. In lieu of the commission pennant, a vessel with an admiral or other officer in command of a division, squadron, etc., or a high ranking civil official aboard, flies the personal flag or command pennant of that person.
Company GradeRefers to officers of the grades 01-03 in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
DecommissioningA somber ceremony which terminates the active naval service of ships other than those lost at sea.
Dining-InA formal dinner given by a unit which follows a traditional format.
Dinner PartnerAt formal dinners, a gentleman will often escort the lady who will sit to his right at the table (his dinner partner).
EnsignA flag designated by a country to be flown by its man-of-war
EtiquetteBehavior or form required by good breeding or prescribed by authority in social and official life.
ExcellencyA courtesy title used in addressing a foreign ambassador.
Field GradeA term used by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps to refer to officers of the grades 04-06.
Flag Officers. Refers to officers O-7 and above.
Formal attire General term used to refer to “Black Tie” or ‘White Tie” events.
General OfficersArmy, Air Force, and Marine Corps officers grades 07 and above.
HonorableA courtesy title used in addressing U.S. ambassadors, ministers, governors, cabinet officers, Senators, Congressmen and women, Assistant to the President, Assistant Secretaries, Judges, Mayors.
Hors d’oeuvresAny of various savory foods served as appetizers.
Informal AttireSeasonally appropriate service dress uniform for military.
Civilian: Business suit for men and short dressy dresses, long skirts, or long dresses for women.
Junior OfficerTerm used in the U.S. Navy to refer to officers of the grades 01-04.
Keel-layingThe first milestone in the history of a ship, recognized by a simple ceremony to mark the laying of the keel.
LaunchingSee Christening.
Lounge SuitExpression used by the British for Civilian Informal; or business suit for men, informal dresses for women.
LuncheonUsed interchangeably with lunch in writing to refer to a gathering of individuals for a noon meal. On invitations: to a luncheon implies a number of guests will attend; to luncheon indicates fewer and a more intimate group.
Menu CardsA formal card approximately 4 x 6 inches in size upon which is printed the menu for 3 formal luncheon or dinner.
Merchant EnsignThe Flag designated by a country to be flown by merchant vessels of that country.
“Mr. Vice/Madame Vice”Affectionate term for the junior member of a mess who acts as Vice President for a Dining-ii.
National FlagThe flag flown to represent a national government.
Notations written on calling cards:
n.bNote well, pay special attention. Change of address, to call attention to.
p.cpour condoler–to condole, may replace the usual English expressions of sympathy on a card left personally or sent through the mail at times of bereavement.
p.f.pour feliciter-to congratulate, is used to extend felicitations on occ~ions such as nation~ holidays or some special event. Cards so inscribed are generally mailed or delivered on the day being celebrated.
p.mpour memoire–to remind, a party, etc.
pp.pour presenter-to present, is occasionally seen on a friend’s card that has been sent with a stranger’s card. This is intended to int reduce the stranger. When such a card is received, one should immediately send cards or call on the person so introduced.
p.p.c.pour prende conge–to take leave, is used on a card by the individual who is departing from a station or community. If it is impossible to call in person, such cards may be sent by mail and should be left on all officials and all acquaintances by whom one has been entertained.
p.r.pour remercier–to thank, is written on a card mailed to a person who has sent a card inscribed with p.f. Or P.C.
PrecedenceThe right to superior honor on a ceremonial or formal occasion. A diplomat’s “date of precedence” is the day on which he/she presented credentials to the host government. This date aids in ranking members of the diplomatic corps.
ProtocolA code prescribing adherence to correct etiquette and precedence.
Receiving LineA group of people who stand in a line and individually meet and welcome arriving guests to a social function.
ReceptionA ceremony of receiving guests. Very often a cocktail party which has a receiving line.
Regrets onlyUsed on invitation cards in the lower left hand comer in lieu of R.S.V.P. “Regrets only” indicates a response is”required only when the invitation is not accepted.
Reminder CardsAlso called “to remind” cards and used as a follow-up on accepted telephoned invitations.
R.S.V.P.The French abbreviation for respondéz s’il vous plait, meaning, please reply. It is written on invitationsin the lower left hand comer.
Semi-engraved invitationAn invitation generally used for formal and sometimes informal occasions which allows room for partially handwritten information.
Senior OfficerRefers to naval officers of the grades 05-06.
SponsorThe title given to a prominent lady of the community and member of the “Society of Sponsors” who participates in the christening of a ship. She breaks a bottle of wine on the bow of the ship and names it as the ship slides into the water.
Take-in CardsA small folded card used at formal dinners, with a gentleman’s name written on the outside and his partner’s name written inside together with a small diagram showing their position at the table.
ToastingA means of expressing good will toward another by drinking to that wish.
WAVESA term used during World War II meaning ‘Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service”. The term is now inappropriate and should not be used in reference to Navy women.
Wetting DownSlang for a promotion party
White TieA very formal attire not often used in the U.S. today.
Uniform-formal dress.
Civilian-full dress evening wear; tails for men; very dressy gowns for women.