flush out your headgear

Agito a42

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

Rafterman: Well, at least they died for a good cause.
Animal Mother: What cause was that?
Rafterman: Freedom.
Animal Mother: Flush out your headgear, new guy.


Then Animal Mother explains that what they see here is a mere slaughter and freedom is not the cause he would die for.

Rafterman is not wearing a helmet in this scene.

Could you explain the meaning "flush out your headgear"?
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    She [He?] means "You need to get that kind of idea out of your head, as it's totally wrong/misguided" ~ and then she [he?] explains why.
     

    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    Animal Mother is a he.

    So, "headgear" is a slang word for "head", right? How common is it? I couldn't find this usage anywhere.
    And the "flush out" here = to empty or clean something, am I right? The same as in "The school nurse flushed the child's eyes out after he got fingerpaint in them."
     

    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    Still don't get it. Is there some sort of idiom I don't know? How could some foreign matter in my hat "delude" me, affect my judgement/opinion/whatever?

    Please note, as I said in the OP, Rafterman is not wearing a helmet in this scene.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Is there some sort of idiom I don't know?
    No, it's not an idiom. But the meaning is understandable.
    How could some foreign matter in my hat "delude" me, affect my judgement/opinion/whatever?
    It's not meant to be taken literally. It was intended to mean: Get that thought out of your head, as Ewie said.
    Please note, as I said in the OP, Rafterman is not wearing a helmet in this scene.
    He didn't have to be. I assume Rafterman is a soldier and usually wore headgear. Animal Mother is jokingly saying that his headgear must have put that thought into his head and it'd remained there even after he took his helmet off.

    A rough analogy is the question "What have you been smoking?" in response to a surprising or weird statement. The speaker doesn't actually mean that the other person must have been smoking some potent drug. He just means: What makes you say that?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    So, "headgear" is a slang word for "head", right? How common is it?
    "Headgear" is/was used in the Marines to mean your head. I can't imagine its being used outside that context.

    Also, there may be another, underlying reference. "Head" is the naval/Marine Corps term for a toilet. You "flush out the head" – by using copious amounts of water and soap – to clean the floors and bowls of the toilet. So you put them together to "flush out your headgear." I read it as "Clear your mind of such stupid thoughts." (As others have said.)

    As a matter of interest, this line is taken directly from Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers, the book the movie script is based on.
     
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    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    I like Copyright's explanation of the idea behind this line, the one with "head" meaning "toilet".

    I would like to know if you would understand a version with "helmet" instead of "headgear": "Flush out your helmet, new guy." Does it sound OK to you?
     
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    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I like Copyright's explanation of the idea behind this line, the one with "head" meaning "toilet"
    Well, that's secondary – Animal Mother is speaking about his head, specifically his brains.
    I would like to know if you would understand a version with "helmet" instead of "headgear": "Flush out your helmet, new guy." Does it sound OK to you?
    No, very odd. Helmets are used for a variety of purposes, so it would be confusing at best.
     
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