"Old Sailing Expressions" [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Glockdude1
01-07-2009, 17:31
I've found many sayings which came from old sailing expressions....here's some that I think are interesting:

Footloose
The bottom edge of a sail is called the foot. If it comes loose, it is footloose and it dances randomly in the wind.

Pipe Down
The Pipe Down was the last signal from the Boson's pipe each day which meant lights out and silence. Therefore, when someone says to pipe down, they are saying be quiet.

Three Sheets to the Wind
A sheet is a rope line which secured to and controls the position of the sail. On a three masted fully rigged ship, there are three sails and therefore, three sheets. When the sheets of the three lower course sails are loose, the sails will flap and flutter and are said to be in the wind . A ship in this condition would stagger and wander aimlessly downwind

Under the Weather
If a crewman is standing watch on the weather side of the bow, he will be subject to the constant beating of the sea and the ocean spray. He will be under the weather.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
The devil was the curved deck plank closest to the side of the ship. The devil seam was the seam between the devil and the side of the ship. At times, this seam had to be caulked and in order to do so, the sailor was extended out beyond the deck and balanced precariously above the deep blue sea. As this was a dangerous job, it became traditional to say of someone in danger or trouble that they were between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Son of a Gun
When in port, and with the crew restricted to the ship for any extended period of time, wives and ladies of easy virtue often were allowed to live aboard along with the crew. Infrequently, but not uncommonly, children were born aboard, and a convenient place for this was between guns on the gun deck. If the child's father was unknown, they were entered in the ship's log as son of a gun .

Let the Cat Out of the Bag
In earlier times, the standard punishment on a ship was to be flogged with a Cat O' Nine Tales. This was normally kept in a leather bag. When punishment was delivered, the Boson's Mate would take the cat out of the bag. It's definitely a bad thing to "let the cat out of the bag"

Scuttlebutt
A butt is a barrel. To scuttle something meansto chop a hole in it. Therefore, scuttlebutt was a water barrel with a hole cut into it so that sailors could reach in and dip out drinking water. The scuttlebutt was the place where the ship's gossip was exchanged.

:supergrin:

pupcuss27
01-07-2009, 19:31
That's some good information bro

My father was an Old Salt. :rofl:

Navy HMC
01-08-2009, 01:29
Cold enough to knock the balls off a brass monkey

A normal stack of cannon balls next to a gun was 30 cannon balls in a pyramid shape. to keep the iron balls from rusting together, they would have a brass rack between the stacks. In cold weather, the brass would contract faster than the iron. If it was too cold, the cannon balls would fall off the stack in even gentle rolling seas.

Guess where a "Round of ammuntion" comes from.


Don't know about that witches breast in a brass brassierre thing though....:rofl:

Trebuchet
01-09-2009, 11:41
According to the United States Navy Historical Center, this is a legend of the sea without historical justification. The center has researched this because of the questions it gets and says the term “brass monkey” and a vulgar reference to the effect of cold on the monkey’s extremities, appears to have originated in the book “Before the Mast” by C.A. Abbey. It was said that it was so cold that it would “freeze the tail off a brass monkey.” The Navy says there is no evidence that the phrase had anything to do with ships or ships with cannon balls.

Glockdude1
01-09-2009, 19:50
Don't know about that witches breast in a brass brassierre thing though....:rofl:

Now that would be a interesting story!!

:supergrin:

Navy HMC
01-10-2009, 00:18
According to the United States Navy Historical Center, this is a legend of the sea without historical justification. The center has researched this because of the questions it gets and says the term “brass monkey” and a vulgar reference to the effect of cold on the monkey’s extremities, appears to have originated in the book “Before the Mast” by C.A. Abbey. It was said that it was so cold that it would “freeze the tail off a brass monkey.” The Navy says there is no evidence that the phrase had anything to do with ships or ships with cannon balls.

Well, All I can say is that this was one of 250 tidbits of navy lore I had to memorize once... Stays with you!