I served in the Russian military and we weren't allowed to use our phones when we were on duty. So whenever someone was noticed using their phone, the whole unit had to do push-ups, squats, etc.

In Russian the term for it is "качать", it's a verb, meaning to "buff up", our sergeants thought that if we don't get these rules through our heads, we will get them through our arms/legs. Is there a similar term in English?

  • 12
    "if we don't get these rules through our heads, we will get them through our arms/legs" Love that turn of phrase.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 7:38
  • 11
    @Carl Witthoft. In the military you want the members of your unit to watch out for each other. Their lives may very well depend on it. This kind of punishment (we called it "mashing" in the Navy) is a way to get your unit to become self-policing and get everyone in the unit into the habit of watching out for their team members. Think of it like a team building exercise.
    – Michael J.
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 17:57
  • 2
    @MichaelJ. Add mashing as an answer, please!
    – tmgr
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 11:03
  • 3
    @CarlWitthoft I'm not missing the point, you're missing the relevant experience. :) Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Carl Witthoft , not to belabor a point, but you are looking at this backwards. The purpose of such "group punishment" is not to teach the individual to comply with the rules, but to teach the team how to overcome an individual team member's rule breaking. If a sports team does not learn to do this, they will lose the game. If a military team does not learn to do this, they will die.
    – Michael J.
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 17:25

4 Answers 4


In the US Army, smoking is a general term for physical punishment, although not necessarily collective punishment, as in your example.

A Wikipedia glossary of military slang has the following entry:

smoke (verb)

(U.S. Army)

Term to describe punishment of minor offenses by means of excessive physical training.

Usage: "The drill instructor smoked me for talking back."

See U.S. Marine Corps term Thrashed

This seems to be an interesting niche preservation of an otherwise obsolete sense of the verb smoke.

According to Merriam-Webster:

smoke verb

smoked; smoking

intransitive verb


2 archaic: to undergo punishment: cf suffer

...although note that in the archaic sense listed here, to smoke means to be punished rather than to punish.

Disciplining an entire unit, much as you describe in your example, can be termed a smoke session, as we can see in this excerpt from a US Army document entitled Corrective Training/Corrective Action Guide for Leaders:

Leaders must exercise good judgment in the administration of corrective action. Corrective action may be applied to entire units if appropriate (correcting an entire platoon failing to show teamwork during Red Phase in a given training event by having them do five repetitions of the pushup, for example), but will be focused at the individual level whenever possible. Improper use can lead to unauthorized mass punishment or hazing. Do not refer to this type of administrative corrective measure as "smoking" or "smoke sessions;" such references give the impression that these measures are punitive or oppressive.

Urban Dictionary also has an entry for smoke session. Well, it has several. Here's the relevant one:

Smoke Session

A term originating in military recruit training, which refers to an intense physical training session, usually initiated as a form of punishment for minor infractions, where one or more individuals typically do rigorous physical activity until exhaustion and/or muscle failure.

Bro, it was a total smoke session last night after drill sergeant Wilson caught Roberts sleeping during fire watch!

Also, as mentioned in the glossary quoted above, thrashed (or perhaps thrash) is apparently a similar term in use in the US Marines:


(U.S. Marine Corps)

An extreme physical exercise routine ordered by DIs upon a recruit or Platoon for making a mistake which could last until complete exhaustion. Puddles of sweat are often the end result.

  • 1
    Thanks, this is what I was looking for. I didn't necessarily want something collective, just the term itself. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 6:10
  • @Happy Cheers, np. I learnt a thing or two writing the answer! Great question btw. For future reference, single-word-requests are meant to include an example sentence showing how the word sought would be used. It helps narrow down the meaning required.
    – tmgr
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 9:35
  • 2
    As a bit of a dissenting vote, ex US Navy here, and this is a term I've never heard with regard to collective punishment. I certainly experienced it both in boot camp and on board ship, so the concept is sound. I also grew up in a USN family, so I was exposed to military terminology from birth. That certainly doesn't mean it's wrong, just not universal in the US Military.
    – delliottg
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 15:47
  • @delliotg seems I was overly general. I'll edit and confine it to Army. (Have I got that right?) Any other terms in use? I'd be interested myself, never mind OP.
    – tmgr
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 15:58
  • 3
    smoke, haze, why all the non-clear air expressions used for this sort of thing?
    – NH.
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 20:42

"Collective Punishment" is the term you're looking for and it has been practised since ancient times, whenever a whole group is punished for the acts of one.

Examples of collective punishment:

  • During the finals of the national Dutch cup in April 2014, a few Ajax supporters interrupted the game by throwing fireworks on the field, and they inflicted severe damage to several areas of the soccer stadium. Although the damage was caused by only a handful of hooligans, the entire club was subsequently fined with €70’000, and the decision was made to ban all supporters—including the innocent majority—from attending the future games between these two teams for the following three years. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  • During WWII: During the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Germans applied collective responsibility: any kind of help given to a person of Jewish faith or origin was punishable by death, and that not only for the rescuers themselves but also for their families. This was widely publicized by the Germans. During the occupation, for every German killed by a Pole, 100–400 Poles were shot in retribution. Wikipedia

  • In 16th Century China: During the Ming dynasty of China, 16 palace women attempted to assassinate the Jiajing Emperor. All were sentenced to death by slow slicing. Ten members of the women's families were also beheaded, while a further 20 were enslaved and gifted to ministers. Wikipedia

Examples of collective punishment are often found in classrooms, among the military, during embargos, wars, etc.

It's worth adding that under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment inflicted on civilian enemies is considered a war crime.

  • 1
    It is worth noting that collective punishment is against the Geneva Convention and may be against the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I say maybe because I am unsure whether special latitude is allowed in the military.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 23:20
  • 1
    @Tuffy It depends on which country you're talking about. "Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is a war crime. Additional Protocol II of 1977 explicitly forbids collective punishment. Wikipedia
    – Centaurus
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 23:28
  • 15
    The 4th Geneva Convention deals with the protection of civilians in a war zone. It has nothing to do with how the military treats its own soldiers. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 23:43
  • 1
    @michael.hor257k I never said it does.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 0:01
  • 9
    @Centaurus: You've described collective punishment as a war crime unconditionally, in a question about a military punishing its own soldiers, and cited the Fourth Geneva Convention as the reason. Whether or not you've explicitly said it applies to soldiers, you've very heavily implied it. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 17:46

In British military slang a semi-formal word used for extreme punishment of an individual is called a Beasting In general a group historically may have been "fizzed" generally subjected to "gravel bashing" (square bashing)

In Singapore a recent common term “Standby Universe” for a specific group task that may have to be repeatedly carried out from bunk to square, especially if something is stun (q.v. same link.) An individual may be subject of "Blanket Party" as a form of hazing (bullying).

  • 2
    Groups can get a beasting due to the behaviour of one as well.+ 1
    – QHarr
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 21:42
  • I was under the impression square-bashing refers specifically to drill on the drill square, rather than physical exercise.
    – JDF
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 10:38

US Army usage:

An informal term for punishing a soldier with physical exercise is 'to smoke' the soldier. It means to make the soldier exercise until he is exhausted, and then make him exercise more.

"The sergeant smoked me for for being late to formation."

"He used his phone, so the sergeant smoked the whole squad."

The connotation is that the sergeant is making the soldiers do so much physical exercise that they burn up or start smoking, rather than smoke them like a cigarette.

Getting smoked is not a light punishment. To punish a soldier or a group of soldiers for a minor violation, the sergeant would make them 'do PT', as in do physical training.

'Do PT' normally describes ordinary physical fitness training, but it also refers to punishment if the soldiers are ordered to do physical training as a punishment.

"He used his phone, so the sergeant made us do PT for an hour."

You can also say "PT" by itself.

"If the sergeant catches of them with a phone again, he will PT them to death."

enter link description here enter link description here

  • 3
    As a hint on our site's expectations, note how tmgr's post also covers smoke, but includes authoritative references to back up their answer. The supporting evidence distinguishes an answer suitable for EL&U from a personal opinion more suitable to a forum. Why not edit your answer to provide a reference for "PT"? For further guidance, see How to Answer :-) Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 0:14
  • Please note that two of the earlier answers referred specifically to "US" army usage or to "British" military slang. Would you please make it clear whether you are referring to US, British or some other country's "informal term", because this is the type of thing that is likely to differ between various English-speaking countries.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 19:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.