FBI Slang and Anecdotes

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This section is all taken from Ronald Kessler's very useful and interesting book "The FBI", published by Pocket Books.

FBI slang is often called "bu-ease"

This refers to what agents really call things. They are supposed to call things by long, complicated Bureaucratic names. You don't "call" a suspect; you "contact them telephonically." You "furnish" them with documents, and "afford" them their rights. The Bureau doesn't merely do work; it "accomplishes its responsibilities."

Agents are often said to pick up bad writing habits, since they have to conform to the complicated Bureau-speak when writing reports.

Anyway, here's the slang...

  • Bureau Transport

    Bureau cars are described by a variety of names. It seems as if each local office has its own favourite. (In Jersey Devil, we see Mulder ask for a Bureau car, so we know that Mulder and Scully use them.)

    Names include:


    Buc (pronounced bu-see)


    Bureau planes (of which it has over a hundred, piloted by agents who are also pilots) are often referred to by the name "Bubirds"

  • Bureau Employees

    Assistant Director is abbreviated to "ADIC" (pronounced ay-dick). He, and others high up in the Bureau hierarchy, is an "HBO", or High Bureau Official

    As we hear in "Young at Heart", among others, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, abbreviated to ASAC, is pronounced "ay-sack". His superior, the Special Agent in Charge, though, is pronounced in full: S-A-C, not as "sack"

    An agent who works the streets in the local offices, actually working on cases, is called a brick agent or a street agent

    Agents, when joining the FBI, are sometimes told that they have to change their name, to avoid duplication (No two agents can have the same name) This usually consists of nothing more than using their middle name instead of their first name, or whatever. This working name is, for obvious reasons, called their "Bureau name"

    Female agents are variously referred to as "split- tails", "skirts", and, in California, "breast-feds". it is to assumed that none of these are considered very polite!

    A member of the female support staff who has worked for the Bureau for her whole life and is "married to the Bureau" is called a "Betty Bureau"

    And agent who started as a clerk and then was trained as an agent is derisively called a "clagent"

    A newly trained agent on his first assignment is called a "first office agent". When he, or any other agent, wants to transfer to another office and has a particular one in mind, he signs up on a waiting list for his "office of preference", and hopes.

    Rent-a-goons are agents from another office who are loaned, temporarily, to help out on a case. (Could this term apply to Mulder and Scully in many of their cases?). When the OPR performs its inspections of a division, it sends its own agents in to work alongside agents in the division it is inspecting, and these agents are also called rent-a-goons.

    KMA, or "Kiss My Ass", refers to Agents who are eligable for retirement so don't have to put up with any "guff from the Bureau" (as the book says)

    A SWAT team member, all dressed up and ready to go, is called "a Ninja"

  • An Agent's Work

    To take time off for the afternoon, signing off at the end of office hours but actually leaving early, is called "to balloon" Maybe he needs to take time off because of the size of his "Too-Hard Box", which is the mythical box between his in-box and his out-box

    Discipline: "Beach time" is slang for suspension. A "four-bagger" consists of censure, transfer, suspension and probation, so is, presumably, only for very serious offences.

    Agents are most likely to require discipline after offences involving one of the "Three Bs" - Broads, Booze and Bucars (ie cars)

    A teletype is a Bureau communication demanding very urgent attention. An airtel requires urgent attention , but is of slightly lower priority.

    Agents may be given orders UACB - "unless advised to the contrary by the Bureau"

    A "Roscoe" is a gun

    "Creds" are your FBI badge, identification, etc.

    On a case: The local office which is handling the case is the "Office of Origin". This means that it originated the case, and that one of its own agents is in charge of the case. They may be investigating an "unsub" - the unknown subject.

    Roast beef: Kessler's book tells a nice little story about an agent in New York who thought that FBI agents were allowed special deals in a local deli. When his sandwich came, he showed his credentials and said "FBI! More roast beef." Apparently, this story is known across the whole country, and agents who are dissatisfied with something will say "more roast beef", and agents telling their boss how they showed their credentials to someone will say "I roast beefed him".

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