There is a military term or idiom, which I cannot recall exactly, that essentially means calling negative attention to yourself. For example, you are doing something you know you shouldn't be doing. By asking the question, "Hey, is it OK to do this?" you get yourself in trouble; when if you kept your mouth shut, no one would have noticed what you were doing.

It had something to do with having a silhouette; it made me think of walking on the crest of a hill, where you could be easily spotted by a sniper, as opposed to walking with the hill behind you, so you didn't stand out. It's not "keep your head down".

  • 2
    Try to cast a small shadow?
    – Doc
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:37
  • No, it's something like "highlighting".
    – CigarDoug
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:44
  • 1
    I don't know if it's a military term or not, but in the context of breaking cover, 'expose' would fit. I'm not sure if it necessarily has the negative connotation without context, though.
    – Joe
    Feb 5, 2014 at 21:03
  • 2
    "Drawing fire" is a metaphor that uses a military concept, but I'm not sure it's a military term.
    – user867
    Feb 5, 2014 at 23:42

4 Answers 4


I believe that a/the military term is called "skylining."

b. Bounding Element. Maneuver is inherently dangerous. Enemy weapons, unknown terrain, and other operational factors all increase the danger. When maneuvering, the platoon leader considers the following.

(1) The bounding element must take full advantage of whatever cover and concealment the terrain offers. By enforcing and applying the principles of terrain driving, leaders and drivers, respectively, can enhance security. For example, they should always use intervening terrain and avoid "skylining."

(army field manual 3-21.71 chapt 3 (2002))

Never stand on the crest of a hill. It makes you such an easy target. The whole point of camouflage is to make it hard for the enemy to acquire you as a target. You can be easily defeated if you are against the blue sky. It’s where the term “skylining” comes from. When you rat someone out, you are skylining them.

(source, purportedly an interview sourced on a video wargame website)

"avoid skylining, which occurs when a sniper's silhouette is visible against the sky" source

". . . not skylining yourself or your positions . . . " source

  • 1
    may you please provide a link to this definition?
    – d'alar'cop
    Feb 5, 2014 at 20:27
  • I think this may be it, but not sure. I was expecting an "a-ha" moment when I hear the term.
    – CigarDoug
    Feb 6, 2014 at 17:16

Are you thinking of making yourself "silhouetted"? Another term used is "conspicuity".

Those terms are used in the U.S. Army Field Manual FM 20-3 "CAMOUFLAGE, CONCEALMENT, AND DECOYS".

  • I think this must be the one, given the querent's mentioning "something to do with having a silhouette".
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:07
  • 1
    I would have thought that if the word were simply "silhouetted" then it would have occurred to the OP when he wrote "silhouette" given that it's the same word different tense >_> But could be wrong.
    – Doc
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:20
  • 1
    It's more than a tense change- it's been verbed, but a valid criticism nonetheless. Feb 5, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    @SpehroPefhany I like how you just verbed the word "verb" too
    – user25705
    Feb 5, 2014 at 17:30
  • Doc is correct. It's one of those aggravating situations where you know the phrase if you hear it. That would include saying (or typing) the word yourself. "Hey, what's the word for... never mind!"
    – CigarDoug
    Feb 6, 2014 at 17:14

"skylining" is the military reference to standing on a ridge line allowing your body shape to be silhouetted against the sky. This can happen on clear day, cloudy day, night, etc.

  • 1
    Can you add some examples or references to support this answer? :)
    – NVZ
    Jan 15, 2017 at 3:40

From several years of servitude I would say "keep a low profile at all times" would apply. By not making yourself stand out in combat or garrison will improve your chances of survival.

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