Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: military slang terms ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: military slang terms
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: ursidae-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 Feb 2005 11:03 PST
Expires: 20 Mar 2005 11:03 PST
Question ID: 476668
Looking for the origin and definition of the slang term "shave-tailed
lieutenant".  Probably military in origin.
Subject: Re: military slang terms
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 18 Feb 2005 11:26 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello ursidae and thank you for your question.

The word "shavetail" refers to a Second Lieutenant who is not very
experienced in Army matters.  The saying comes from the practice in
the army of shaving the tails of newly broken pack mules to
distinguish them from seasoned ones.


"Main Entry: shaveˇtail 
Pronunciation: 'shAv-"tAl
Function: noun
Etymology: from the practice of shaving the tails of newly broken
mules to distinguish them from seasoned ones
1 : a pack mule especially when newly broken in
2 usually disparaging : SECOND LIEUTENANT"

Also see:
"A ?shavetail,? Essin explains, was a new initiate, a rookie unproven
in a pack train and designated by a roached mane and cropped tail,
whereas the ?bell sharp? was an experienced mule who knew where to
line up and could identify her saddle."

Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer, do not hesitate to ask prior to rating my answer.

Very best regards


Search strategy included:
shavetail mule
ursidae-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Good information.  :) I have heard the term used disparagingly, but
never knew its origin.

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy