In M.A.S.H (1970 movie), Duke has something in his hand and says these words:

Doctor! Doctor! You forgot your shingle, Doctor.

In English, "shingle" means chicken pox, but is Duke holding a different thing in his hand. So what does "shingle" mean here?

character being handed an unknown "shingle" object

  • I can't tell what the object is, but a common military meal at the time was creamed chipped beef on toast, for which the slang term was "shit on a shingle". Could that be the reference? Of course, the word "shit" would have been omitted for television. Apr 9, 2017 at 0:46

2 Answers 2


This is the scene where John "Trapper" McIntyre is made Chief Surgeon. I believe the other fellows were parading him around in celebration? They sing a song about him being a king, and state he needs a queen.

To this end he jokes that he'll take Houlihan as his queen by pointing at her. Hawkeye feigns misinterpretation and suggests he was pointing at Frank Burns.

This offends both Houlihan and Burns, who leave in a huff. Duke calls out an insult as they leave that suggests Frank Burns has forgotten his shingle:

  1. Informal. A small signboard, as one indicating a professional office: After passing the bar exam, she hung out her shingle:


Ophthalmology shingle

I believe this is part of the running joke where all the doctors question Frank Burns' skill.

  • 1
    Ahh... another US term to confuse the Brits ;) I knew US Eng refers to a 'roof tile/slate' as a shingle, but didn't know this one. In the UK shingle is pretty much only ever used to refer to a beach made up of light stones. Cambridge dictionary link showing all 4 meanings [in the UK order of preference]
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 1, 2017 at 10:26

The gloppy mess he is holding up is 'creamed chipped beef on toast, for which the slang term was "shit on a shingle' or in this case - shingle

  • Wasn't familiar with the phrase, the joke was probably a pun then.
    – vinchenso
    Apr 9, 2017 at 2:02
  • This is 100% the correct answer Feb 17, 2019 at 16:19

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