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This list is incomplete ; you can help by expanding it. Nautical portal. Smyth, W. The sailor's word-book: An alphabetical digest of nautical terms, including some more especially military and scientific London: Blackie and Son. Seamanship in the Age of Sail: an account of the shiphandling of the sailing man-of-war , based on contemporary sources.

London: Conway Maritime Press. Retrieved February 19, Hope Ranger. Retrieved February 15, Archived from the original PDF on February 27, Retrieved February 23, Retrieved January 23, Retrieved January 15, Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 19 July Scientific American Supplement. Munn and Company.

Retrieved New York Crown Publishers Inc. The Language of Sailing. Abingdon: Routledge. Retrieved 6 April Free Dictionary. Ship to Shore. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 September Today if someone "hasn't got a clue" then they do not understand or are not knowledgeable. To "get clued up" is to learn about or to come to fully understand something. Head : The lavatory aboard a ship is known as the "head. Heave to : To stop or slow a sailing vessel by placing some of the canvas often the jib back against the wind and placing the main in a close haul position while fastening the rudder in a fixed position.

The expression is also used to mean stopping. However, this is not used as commonly as it once was. Originally used to describe a ship that is beached or on the rocks. She is left 'high' by the receding tide and 'dry' by being out of the water. The phrase "Holy Mackerel! Horse Latitudes: This is the area of relatively calm weather conditions found from latitudes 30 degrees North to 30 degrees South. The expression is said to come from the story that sailing ships carrying horses to America, when traversing these latitudes, had to throw horses overboard in order to lighten their vessels to make headway.

Today it is used to mean closely follow or chase. The larger vessels were sometimes stripped of their rigging and used for in-port storage. Today expressions like "He was a great 'hulk' of a guy" means he was a big man. This street was known by the sailors as the street that catered to the pleasures of sailors.

If life was Honki Dori, a sailor had money, plenty of grog, and a pretty girl. In Irons : This is a term used to describe the position of a sailing vessel with the bow or front facing directly into the wind so that neither side of the sails fill. In the Drink : Is a term used to indicate that someone has fallen into the water. This area is known to have unstable and light wind conditions. A sailing ship caught in the Doldrums can be stranded due to lack of wind. Today the term is used to describe someone as being in low spirits, stagnated or depressed.

This is brought about when a boat sailing down wind alters course or when the wind changes direction so that the wind passes from one side of the stern to the other.


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The term is also now used when referring to negative, unwelcomed remarks about or to another person. It originates from the nautical term "jury mast," which is a temporary mast made from any available pole when the mast has become damaged or lost overboard. This term gave rise to the term 'jury rigging' to describe an attempt to place certain persons as jurors in a court proceeding in an effort to assure a particular legal decision. K Keel hauling : This was a naval punishment during the 15th and 16th centuries. The crew member who was to be punished was dragged under the bottom of the boat from one side of the boat to the other.

The term "keel-hauled" is still used to mean a severe punishment. Today the expression is often used in reference to a person being emotionally "turned over" or upset as well as a reference to a person dying.

Today the expression is used when describing a persons emotions. To "keep an even keel" is to remain level headed or emotionally stable. Today it has a similar use, meaning to generally watch out for trouble. One nautical mile is equal to meters or 1. At one end of the line there would be a log or some other type of sea anchor that was thrown over from the stern.

50 Nautical Terms and Sailing Phrases That Have Enriched Our Language

The knotted line was allowed to run freely for a specific amount of time after which it was hauled back onboard where the number of knots could be counted giving the number of knots of forward speed. Today the term means to be accomplished or be proficient at some particular job or task. L Lay of the land : Nautically to "know the lay of the land" was important for navigation as well as an indicator of what the seafloor may be like. If the land is flat and sandy, the seabed is likely to be shallow and sandy. Learning the ropes : This expression has come to mean generally learning how to perform some specific task or gain skill within some particular field of endeavor.

The term comes from the important task of learning the use of the many ropes aboard a sailing vessel. The term is used today to mean that someone has said something that was not to be said or revealed a secret. Limey : A term that was used to refer to a British sailor, now this is also used generally to indicate a British person.

The term came from the seventeenth and eighteenth century practice of issuing limes to British sailors to combat scurvy a vitamin C deficiency.

Yacht Charter in Greece

Listing to port : Today this phrase is used to describe someone who appears to be unsteady on their feet, perhaps from the effects of fatigue or alcohol. The term is from the nautical term "listing to port" which means the vessel is leaning towards the left or portside. Loose Ends: Today the term "at loose ends" is used to reference someone who has spare time and does not know what to do with themselves. The term comes from the practice of having the ship's crew members repair and splice the ship's ropes when they didn't have something else to do.

The crew member performing this task was said to be at "loose ends.

See the Sea - Nautical Language

Today the term is used to refer to the act of generally saying something that should not be said. Lubber or Landlubber : This term is used to mean a big, awkward or clumsy person. The term landlubber originated as a derogatory term for an inexperienced seaman who may be better off on land. M Maiden voyage : A term to reference a ship's first voyage. Today the term is applied to most any type of first trip, whether it is a first trip in a new car or the first voyage to a new place. Marooned: This term is used for an old punishment for mutineers.

It consisted of placing the person on a remote island with very limited supplies and leaving them to their fate. Today the term is used synonymous with stranded. May Day : 'Mayday' is the internationally recognized voice radio signal for ships and people in serious trouble at sea. The barman would keep a record of their drinks on a chalkboard behind the bar. A mark was made under "P" for pint or "Q" for quart. On payday, the sailors were liable for each mark next to his name, so he was forced to "mind his P's and Q's.

Miss the mark : This expression comes from sailing where the "mark" is a rounding mark or buoy that sailboats competing in a regatta must sail around before turning towards the next mark or finish line.

Nautical Idioms and Phrases

If a sailboat misses the mark, it must complete a degree circle before continuing the race as a penalty. Today the expression is used when one did not achieve an intended goal or complete a plan. N Nautical : The term 'Nautical' originates from the Greek word ' nauti' meaning sailor. With a full crew, the deck could be so crowded that the cat o' nine tails was difficult to use without hitting other crew members.

In other words, there was "no room to swing a cat. Now You're talkin' : This was originally an expression used by sailors to indicate that the sails were set correctly and the ship was balanced. The tem is still used to indicate agreement with what someone else is saying or a particular course of action. It originated as an old naval expression meaning close to the shore by sailing off and on or away from and towards the shore.

The term is also used to mean a "genuine" kind of a person. On an even keel : This is a term to indicate that a vessel has no lean or tilt towards either side. The expression is often used to reference something or someone in a state of stability and balance. The expression is also used to reference someone approaching a task or problem from the wrong direction or continuing in the wrong direction.

Over a barrel : Sailors being punished were sometimes tied over a cannon barrel when being whipped. Today the expression is used when someone is in a bad situation and that there is often no other possible course of action. Today the word means to maintain things in a working condition or to improve upon the current condition, for example to overhaul or make repairs on a car. Over-reach : This is an expression that originally meant to continue to sail longer upon a tack than is necessary in order to reach a given point.

Today the term is used in a general sense of exceeding a limit or having gone too far or over-extended in some venture. Overwhelm : This term comes from the Middle English word meaning "to capsize" or overturn a vessel. Today the term is synonymous with being overcome, defeated or to capitulate. Today this expression is used to refer to someone who has passed a test or some other type of trial with a great margin.