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World War I British and ANZAC army slang, probably a corruption of Frenchil n′y a plus” (“there is no more”).


napoo (not comparable)

  1. (military slang, now historical) Finished, dead, no more, gone; non-existent. [from 20th c.]
    • 1918 April, 'R', An elegy on my dugout, when it was done in, published in Four Whistles by D Company of the Scottish Officer Cadet Battalion, quoted in Graham Seal, The Soldiers' Press: Trench Journals in the First World War 2013 →ISBN:
      What shall I do? / My poor old dug-out is napoo.
    • 1920, Punch, Volume 158, page 185,
      “ ‘Very well,’ says I, ‘San fairy ann. Napoo washing — napoo ball.’
      “ That set ′em to work. Next day little boys were scraping the village over like fowls in a farmyard, getting a chip ′ere an′ a shaving there, an′ making themselves such a nuisance [] .
    • 1929, Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That, Penguin 2000, p. 155:
      One day the corps had orders to shift by the afternoon, so the cook told the Turco, giving him his farewell tin, ‘Oh la, la, Johnny, napoo pozzy tomorrow!’
    • 1964, Pierre Van Paassen, To Number Our Days, page 159,
      The war was napoo, fini, and the Rhine the end of the journey.
  2. (military slang, now historical) Dead. [from 20th c.]
    • 1918, Hereward Carrington, Psychical Phenomena and the War, page 69,
      ‘Hey, Bill, where′s Charles?’
      ‘Yes. He was out on a listening post and lit a cigarette. Sniper got him.’


napoo (third-person singular simple present napoos, present participle napooing, simple past and past participle napooed)

  1. (Britain, army, slang) To finish; to put an end to; to kill.
    He will napoo the rations.
    • 1918, Roland Pertwee, The Little Landscape, Everybody′s Magazine, Volume 38, page 35,
      “The general says that if you are wise you will leave before the cannons come. Otherwise you′ll get ‘napooed,’ ” and he made an expressive gesture. “Compris?
    • 1918, Hereward Carrington, Psychical Phenomena and the War, [page 68],
      I thought a man was lucky if he did not get napooed first trip in.
    • 1984, John Masters, Man of War, 1984, US title High Command, page 230,
      “No,” Merton said shortly. “We sit tight, they find us. If we both go wandering about looking for each other in the middle of the night, we′ll start a battle and the whole plan for tomorrow will be napooed.”
    • 1988, Sidney Rogerson, Twelve days, page 19,
      German planes had not only carried out a raid behind our lines, but a long-range shell had actually hit one of the Battalion cookers and “napooed” it completely.



  1. (Britain, army, slang) There is no more.
    • 1939, Ruthven Todd, Over the Mountain, 1978 reprint, page 216,
      [] Finish! Napoo!” and he spread his hands expressively, holding the cup upside down with the cloth hanging out of it, before he went on: “But it hasn't come to that yet. []

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