fouled up



FUBAR is an acronym that commonly means "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair" (used to describe the state of some equipment) or "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition" (used to describe a situation or scenario), which now exists in many variations. Although it originated in the US Armed Forces, its usage has spread to civilian environments.


The phrase is sometimes bowdlerized by substituting "Fouled" for "Fucked".

Depending on situation or habitat, "all" can be replaced with "any", and "repair" can be replaced with either "redemption", "recognition", "rescue", "reality", "recovery", "relief", "reconciliation", or "reason". The concept is generally the same regardless of the exact wording used.

FUBAR has sometimes been used in software development in the almost opposite sense: "Fucked Up But All Right", meaning that the system design is fatally flawed, but works anyway.


Electronics engineers say that SNAFU and FUBAR were used before World War II by repairmen sent out to repair phone booths. They had to report the situation at arrival to the scene, often on a very bad line, so they developed these acronyms to make themselves understood. Others say the word was developed in the 1960s, as fire departments across the US began to use the line, though as noted below it is found in military media as far back as 1944. Also as stated below, Stanley makes a FUBAR tool and most departments use some form of the tool. It is commonly used for forcible entry and overhauling of burned structures.

The Oxford English Dictionary currently lists Yank magazine (1944, 7 Jan. p. 8) as its earliest citation: "The FUBAR Squadron... FUBAR? It means 'Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition'."

FUBAR also appears, in an apparent example of geek humor, as the acronym for the Failed UniBus Address Register in the Digital Equipment Corporation VAX-11/780 Unibus adapter (DW780).

FUBAR may have been influenced by the German word furchtbar, meaning "terrible". It is pronounced with a soft cht, and probably made the transition during World War II.

Related usage

One of the most popular hacker/demo groups on the Commodore 64 scene in the mid 1980s was FBR – "Fucked Beyond Repair".

There is a tool made by Stanley tools named the FUBar, internally a quasi-acronym for "Functional Utility Bar". This tool is a multi-function small disassembly/demolition device that resembles a cross between a heavy pipe wrench and a pry bar, and should be seen for better understanding.

Geologists sometimes refer to rocks that have been heavily metamorphosed or otherwise altered beyond recognition as fubarite.

Physics and mathematics

In physics and mathematics, the "fubar" is an imaginary unit of measure. The primary use of the fubar is to illustrate and demonstrate the complications and errors that often arise when metric and Imperial units are mixed (as, for instance, in the case of the Mars Climate Orbiter).

Software Engineering

When software engineers discuss design issues or class structures within an application, "foo" and "bar" are used as generic subroutine names. However, this is unlikely to be related to FUBAR, aside from phonetically. See Foobar.


  • Nkrumah Fubar is the name of the narrator in the first few pages of the "Illuminatus Trilogy" (1975) by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
  • "The Fubar Suit" (1997) is the title of a science fiction short story by Stephen Baxter.
  • Battle Cry (1953) by Leon Uris. "Fubar" appears in this somewhat autobiographical novel about the Marines on Tarawa and Guadalcanal during World War II.
  • F*U*B*A*R (2006), title of book by Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill. Subtitled America's Right-wing Nightmare
  • FUBAR- an acronym uttered by various military agents to describe the seemingly hopeless battle situations they find themselves in against the alien enemy Posleen during the wars in the "Legacy of the Aldenata" book series, by author John Ringo. The books include: A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, Hells Faire, The Hero, Cally's War, Watch on the Rhine.

Film and television

  • Characters in the Australian television show The Secret Life of Us would frequent the nearby Fu Bar.
  • In the 1944 U.S. Army animated short The Three Brothers (directed by Friz Freleng), a character named Fubar is a brother of Private Snafu {i.e. Situation Normal, All ... All Fouled Up} and Tarfu (see below).
  • The term was on the T-shirt of the arm wrestler with the grizzly hair and beard in the movie Over the Top (1987)
  • The term was used frequently in Full Metal Jacket (1987).
  • The term was used and explained in the movie Tango and Cash (1989).
  • In Saving Private Ryan (1998), the term is used by the soldiers in Captain Miller's squad. Corporal Upham, their interpreter, is unfamiliar with it and the others jokingly tell him it's German. He is later shown looking in his German dictionary and remarking: "Hey, I looked up FUBAR in the German dictionary and there's no FUBAR in there." FUBAR is explained towards the end of the film when Mellish is giving Upham a briefing for the final battle as "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition".
  • FUBAR: The Movie is also the title of a 2002 Canadian mockumentary.
  • In the Dark Angel television series, Joshua the dog frequently used it to describe complicated situations.
  • In Battlestar Galactica Series 3, Episode 15 ("A Day in the Life"), Chief Tyrol uses FUBAR, possibly meaning "Fracked Up Beyond All Repair".
  • In 28 Weeks Later, the acronym was used to describe the situation of the outbreak of the virus.
  • The acronym was used at the end of a Squidbillies episode when Early Cuyler was talking with Squid Jesus.
  • In the television series NCIS Kate and Tony refer to it and oddly enough well known geekophile Tim has no idea what it means.
  • Episode Five of the Ken Burns Public Broadcasting Service series The War (airing in late September 2007) is titled "FUBAR".
  • The January 7 episode of The Colbert Report featured host Stephen Colbert using this word in relation to the writers' strike.
  • In the fourth episode, second season of Dexter, a former special ops member has a ship named the S.S. Fubar.
  • The term was used in "The Marines" episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force when Meatwad unwittingly enlists the Aqua Teens into the Marine Corps.
  • In Tropic Thunder, the term is used by Danny McBride's character.

Video games

Stephen King's Dreamcatcher.

Related acronyms

There are a number of slang army acronyms that are related to FUBAR. A somewhat standard group includes:

Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

Joint Army/Navy Fuck-Up

Situation Normal: All Fucked Up

Things Are Really Fucked Up

Situation Normal: All Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

See also


External links

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