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What is a Grunt in the Military? – Answered

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

what is a grunt in the military

The military serves the purpose of caring for its nation and personnel, with every duty holding significant importance to each other.

With that in sight, have you ever pondered what is a grunt in the military? The grunt meaning is more of an endearment and one of the nicknames for troops than a way to establish one’s rank.

Fundamentally, a “grunt person” refers to an infantry soldier tasked with challenging, unswerving, and hazardous engagements and is a classic example of the archetypal essence of a soldier.

Origins and Usage of the Term


Language is a communication tool that evolves over time to help us memorialize and share our past experiences with the world.

Regarding the etymology of the word grunt, we can trace its roots back to Middle English with the term “grunten.” Back then, people described it as making sounds similar to groaning animals or beastly calls.

The grunt definition in the military refers to an infantry soldier, which in the past were servicemen who fought on land, unlike those military personnel who fought on cavalry or while riding horses.

Tracing back the history of the grunt, way back in WWII, the infantry branch had exceptionally high mortality rates, which then required new soldiers to be dispatched and replace the ones who had died.

This unit of troops was recognized then as the grunts. The grunt acronym stands for General Replacement Unit, Not Trained.

The military slang grunt was first used in 1969 when the US was involved in the Vietnam War.

The word grunt does not solely serve as a moniker but also expresses sentimentality and admiration for the hardships endured by troops who fulfill their duties under challenging conditions.

It is a badge of honor for soldiers who leaped from helicopters, endured harsh weather conditions, risked their lives for the country, and more.

This term serves as a military synonym for infantrymen. While it does not establish one’s rank, the word grunt is more of a MOS or type of Military Occupational Speciality.

Role and Responsibilities of Grunts


Now that we have grasped the history and significance of the term grunt, let us go deeper and explore the soldier’s function and discover what a gunt does in the military.

The infantry grunt earns recognition as troops who give it their all, taking on risky, messy, and strenuous tasks while never speaking a resentful remark about their circumstances. They truly embody dedication and resilience in their service.

The infantry personnel undergo training as a rifleman in addition to scouting, capturing, and responding to the enemies and their attacks. The goal of the grunts is to engage closely with the opposing forces and neutralize them.

However, as of 2018, there have been arguments about the age of those entering the infantry.

While there is no age limit for grunts, some argue that 18 years old may not be ideal for this kind of job, and that an older age is more appropriate for achieving effectiveness in the battlefield.

Specifically, the age for close-combat roles should be in the mid to late 20s so that infantry soldiers have time to gain more skills. These skills will give them the experience to train foreign troops and solve problems in demanding operations.

The goals of the military are to improve their tactics in the field, find, approach, and defeat the adversary in today’s intricate present-day warfare.

Army Grunt vs Marine Corps Grunt


If you were to ask “is a grunt in the Army or the Marine?” the best answer would be that they could be in either the Marines or the Army unit.

If we compare the two forces, a grunt soldier in the Marines would operate on sea, land, and air, while Army corps will have no naval activities and stick to the other two domains only.

Army infantry is also larger and takes more time to deploy, though equipment for small units of both branches are similar.

Finally, both Army and Marine infantry have to undergo training. The former has 10 weeks of basic bootcamp, while the latter’s equivalent program lasts 13 weeks.

Grunt Style


Did you know that in 2009, there was a clothing brand inspired by military design and shows about being patriotic? This brand is known as Grunt Style.

It has gained widespread popularity among the veteran and military community, as it prominently features the American flag, military slogans, and insignias representing various branches.

Suffice it to say, the brand is not just for fashion but also serves as an outlet for self-expression.

The founder of this clothing brand was a former Army drill sergeant, and over time, the private company has expanded its workforce, with half of the employees known to be veterans.


That’s the end of our article on what is a grunt in the military.

We have learned that the term refers to soldiers in the infantry unit who serve in either the Army or the Marine Corps and that they are vital to the operation of US armed forces. So, the next time you talk to a veteran, you’ll know what “grunt” means when you hear it.

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