Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions
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Most of us never realize how many words and expressions used in everyday English have a fascinating nautical origin. This charming pocketbook explains the practical ship-board beginnings of over 200 such phrases--colorful, bizarre and surprising--and how they came ashore. For anyone with an interest in the sea & its traditions--landlubbers, boaters, historians, linguists.
this she is recognised; jackass barque, hermaphrodite brig, mussel drudger, cutter, sloop and so on. Always on the lookout for words he can borrow, the sailor used the word to describe the clothes he was wearing and consequently there came the ‘square rig’ or the seaman’s dress with bell-bottom trousers, collar, etc., and the ‘fore and aft rig’ which is what officers wear. The word became general in the description of dress although it does seem to have made a return to its origins with the later
shanties sung when the anchor was to be hauled aboard were generally slow and sentimental. The custom goes back to the 15th century and the word shanty probably takes its name from the French chanter, to sing. Shape-up Look smart, improve oneself. Frequently used as a verb in connection with the course a vessel is to make. The navigator will draw or shape a course around a headland, a danger or an obstruction. A ship out of position will shape up a course to reach her destination. Sheet Anchor
introduced to the western world by Captain Cook who described it in his journal after a visit to Tahiti in 1764. He also brought back Robert Stainsby, a seaman from the Endeavour who had allowed the natives to tattoo his body. From the Tahitian word and meaning to prick. Tell it to the Marines The diarist and secretary to the Royal Navy, Samuel Pepys, while relating to King Charles II in 1664 some of the stories told to him by the captain of HMS Defyance, mentioned the existence of flying fish.
Sails are controlled with ropes called sheets and the most any sail has is two – a lee side sheet and a weather sheet. The sailor’s contention is that if a man who had been drinking was given as many as three sheets he could still not steady or control himself on a regular course. An alternative idea is that of a ship caught with three (jib) sheets in the wind as she goes from one tack to the other. The sails would flap and the ship would wallow and stagger in the locomotion of a drunk. Tell it
would arrive safely and stake money to this effect. The merchant, or shipper, in effect claimed that it would not and was also prepared to put up a sum of money to back his belief. This later became the premium. Published by Adlard Coles Nautical an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP www.adlardcoles.com Copyright � Bill Beavis 1991 First published by Adlard Coles 1983 Reprinted 1985, 1987 Reprinted by Adlard Coles Nautical 1991, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000