alive in one piece and short

Agito a42

Senior Member
Source: Full Metal Jacket (1987), a British-American film about the Vietnam War.

A soldier's thoughts after he lost a couple of friends during the last combat:
I am so happy that I am alive in one piece and short. I am in a world of shit, yes, but I am alive. And I am not afraid.

Could you tell me what the meaning of the "short" here is?
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In Vietnam, the tour of duty was 365 days 13 months.

    The usual usage of "short" in this context is that a person is getting close to gong home.

    (But I haven't seen the film)


    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2017
    short-tim•er (shôrtmər), n. [Informal.]
    1. Informal Terms --a person, as a soldier, who has a short period of time left to serve on a tour of duty.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    American English
    Short means, as sdgraham says, not too many days left before you go back to the World (home).

    The movie is based on the book The Short-Timers. :)