FAIR AND ABOVE BOARD
A commonly used expression of nautical origin meaning
"Utterly fair nothing hidden". Things "above board"
were on or above the upper deck and so open for all to see.
Sailors slang for sarcasm - used in the phrase "Dont
come the old acid"
Naval slang name for any foreign currency. The word comes from
Egypt, where beggars use it when pleading for baksheesh (Piastres).
This is the accepted Naval word for anyone or anything that
cannot be found when it is wanted.
The accepted synonym for first-class. In Lloyds Register,
A1 is the mark of a wooden ship of the first class, A referring to
the quality of her hull and "1" to the quality of her equipment.
This comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "alofts" meaning
TO SWALLOW THE ANCHOR - To leave the Navy for good
- implying that one has no further use for the implement one has for
so long trusted.
AVAST Avast! means Hold! Enough! Finish! It comes from
the Italian word "Basta".
AYE The derivation of this is generally thought to be
unknown, but some experts think it may possibly come from the German
"Eiey!" - an exclamation of astonishment or admiration.
BACKING AND FILLING A common expression
- of maritime origin - for constantly changing ground in a decision
BAG MEAL A meal of sandwiches, etc. provided in a paper
bag for a man who, because of his employment, will not be at his normal
meal place (ashore or afloat) in time for his proper meal.
BALE The verb to bale out, meaning to remove water,
comes from the old name "boyle" for a bucket.
BANYAN PARTY An
old Naval name for a picnic party, especially nowadays by bus.
The word "Banyan" originates from the time when, as an economy,
meat was not issued on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays: these days
were called "Banyan Days" after a religious sect in the
East which believed it wicked to eat meat. It became the custom for
men to save up portions of their rations to tide them over these meatless
days, and also to be sent ashore on those days to gather fruit. Meatless
days were discontinued in 1884. A rare example of the good things
in life being remembered better than the bad things!
BEAR UP! A sailing expression, meaning to bear the
tiller up to windward in order to keep the vessels head away
from the wind. It is in common use, with the metaphorical meaning
of "Keep your spirits up!"
A piece of rope, each of whose ends is secured - e.g. rope handle
of a wooden bucket. The "slots" on the top of a pair of
trousers or on a raincoat through which a belt is passed are beckets.
In Naval slang, Beckets mean pockets
TROUSERS The uniform trousers of a seaman of height
about 5ft 10ins measure 25 inches round the bottom. It is said that
the practice of making sailors trousers very full arose from
the days when the men made their own clothes, when they found it easier
and less wasteful of material to use the full width of the material.
A bolt of serge in Britain has for years measured 54ins across. This,
allowing to turn-ins, would just give the two trousers legs. That
wide trousers legs were subsequently found to be easier to roll up
when scrubbing decks is often given as the reason why trousers were
made wide, but it seems that this was not the original reason.
ROUND THE BEND General Navy slang for "half-witted".
THE BILBOES Old Naval slang name for leg-irons (referred
to in the phrase "clapped him in irons".
BILGE OR BILGE WATER Common slang work of nautical
origin for rubbish or nonsense. Bilge water is the water which collects
in the bilges of a ship - if left, it soon acquires an offensive colour
BLACK-COATED WORKERS Common slang name for stewed prunes.
BLEAT A Naval slang word for a grumble, used as both
noun and verb.
TO BLEED To bleed a buoy is to drain from it any water
which may have got inside thus adversely affecting its buoyancy.
TO BLEED THE MONKEY To extract rum from its barrel
by boring a small hole in the barrel.
THE BIGGEST BLOCK IN THE SHIP is the butchers
block (Old Naval catch question).
BLOKE Sailors slang for the Executive Officer,
second in command of a ship.
BLOOD BOAT Before the days when ships had large refrigerators,
a duty cutter was sent ashore daily (usually in the early hours of
the morning) to draw fresh meat. This boat, which often sailed or
pulled many miles to complete the trip, was nicknamed the "Blood
Boat" - later more generally known as the beef boat.
BLOOD CHIT Naval slang name for the Indemnity Certificate
required to be signed by a civilian before embarkation in a Service
ship or aircraft.
BLOOD MONEY An old Naval slang name for prize money.
NELSONS BLOOD One of the slang names for rum.
It originated from a story that the spirit (actually brandy) in the
cases in which the body of Nelson was brought to this country after
the battle of Trafalgar was tapped by the sentries keeping watch over
it. This story is said to have appeared in the papers at that time
and to have been officially denied.
BLUE Soldiers slang name for a sailor.
BLUERS An old Naval slang name for extra work - said
to be a dim reference to the "Blue" Marines (Royal Marine
Artillery) who were famous for hard work.
BOATSWAIN (PRONOUNCED BOSUN) In sailing ships,
the Boatswain was the officer responsible for the rigging, sails and
sailing equipment. This responsibility still remains, although it
is much smaller now than then. From the 11th Century, ships
of the Buscarles were commanded by a Batsuen or Boatswain (i.e. the
Boats Sweyne), who acted as Master and Steerman. The Bosun
looks after the general working of the ship, especially with regard
to anchors, cables, blocks and tackles. He takes his orders from all
officers, more especially form the Commander. All ropes and hawsers
are under his charge and he is responsible for seeing that boats
falls (i.e. the ropes used for hoisting and lowering boats) are renewed
every six months and changed end-for-end every three months. He is
in charge of endless stores, such as rope, wire, wash-deck gear and
canvas, and he examines and passes men for higher "rating".
BOBBERY Slang word for any hubbub, from Pidgin English;
probably from an Indian soldiers customary shrill outcry when
BOLLARD Metal or stone "stumps" around which
ropes are belayed. The word comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for a
tree. (One nowadays often hears reference to the bole of a tree).
BONE Common (originally Naval) slang for to pilfer,
steal or scrounge. The word comes from the name of a Boatswain in
Admiral Cornwalliss Flag Ship, who was notorious for making
good deficiencies in his stores by stealing from other ships. The
Admiral is reported to have said to the Boatswain on one occasion:
"I trust, Mr. Bone, you will leave me with my anchors".
BOTH SHEETS AFT An old Naval phrase descriptive of
a sailor with his hands in his pockets.
BOW The word "bow" was Anglo-Saxon for
TO PART BRASS RAGS Naval ratings used to share bags
in which polishing rags were kept. Thus, the friend with whom you
shared a bag was your "Raggie" and, when you fell out, you
parted brass rags with him.
BRASS MONKEY WEATHER Slang expression for bitterly
BRASS HAT Slang name for the uniform cap worn by officers
of Commanders rank and above; hence generically used to refer
to such officers themselves.
BROWN JOB Naval nickname for a soldier.
(CHIEF) BUFFER Naval nickname for the Chief Bosuns
Mate. As he is the Executive Officers right-hand man and the
one by whom he passes orders to the Captain of Tops, he is considered
to be the buffer between officer and ratings.
One of several Naval slang names for a Royal Marine. Reason
adduced for this name is that Royal Marines are "Big, beefy,
brawny and brave".
(OR BUN-FIGHT) An old Naval officers slang
name for a tea-party, with ladies, ashore.
BUNGS The old Naval nickname for the Cooper rating.
NUTS Naval Term for eggs
GO ROUND THE BUOY
Naval slang for to come up (usually surreptitiously) for a second
helping of food, especially in cafeteria messing.
Sailors slang name for porridge. Hence, a Surgoo-eater
is a Scotsman.
GO FOR A BURTON Old Naval slang expression to mean
to fall all of a heap; to take a toss as, for example, when one
trips over a rope or door-still when running at speed. The complete
collapse of the victim is inherent in the phrase, not merely a stumble.
WEDDING CAKE Sailors slang
name for rice pudding with currants or raisins in it.
TAKE THE CAN BACK Common slang expression meaning
to be blamed for the acts or faults of another. The expression may
have arisen from the custom in some dockyards of employing a boy
to fetch beer from a local public house; this boy was invariably
blamed if accounts were unpaid or cans not returned.
MEDALS Naval name for stains down the front of jumper,
jacket or coat caused by food or drink.
TO SWING A CAT Common slang expression meaning the
space required for any particular job. This does not refer to the
domestic animal, but to the Naval cat-o-nine tails (The
"Cat"). It has been suggested that this phrase came from
the name - "Cat" - given to sailing colliers in the Middle
Ages and up to the 18th Century. As these ships sailed
in hundreds, there must have been great congestion when they anchored
at Yarmouth Roads or Gravesend and swung to their anchors, so that
the Master of a large craft would naturally condemn a tight anchor
berth as "not Big enough to swing a Cat in". Perhaps Dick
Whittingtons cat was really one of these boats!
IS OUT OF THE BAG Common slang expression, meaning
"The secret is out". From the practice of keeping the
Naval cat o nine tails in a red baize bag and not removing
it until the offender was secured to the gratings and there was
no possibility of a reprieve.
CHAMFER UP To smarten up, make extra tidy or "tiddly".
The expression comes from the shipwrights bench, where it
means to take off the sharp edge of a piece of wood with a chisel.
An old Naval slang word for dirty,
untidy. Most often met in the expression "Happy and chatty".
An old nickname (now quite obsolete) for the Royal Marines,
derived from the looping up of the tails of their coats.
On all formal occasions, the Navy cheers HOORAY, not HURRAH,
and the cheers are called for with three HIPS. On formal occasions
(e.g. end of football match), two HIPS are normal, given by all
the members of the team.
CHEW THE FAT Naval slang expression for to talk volubly.
It is possibly derived from the considerable jaw work involved in
chewing the old-time ration meat before the days of refrigerators
or canned meat.
Officers slang name for a menu card.
A BLOCK, CHOCKER Chock-a-block is an old Naval expression,
meaning "Complete" or "Full up"; synonyms were
"Two blocks" and "Block and block". It derives
from the use of a hauling tackle - when the two blocks of the purchase
were touching each other the lower one could obviously be hoisted
no further, and so the work was completed. Modern slang has corrupted
the expression to "Chocker", meaning "Fed up".
Naval slang for a demonstration of applause. Enthusiastic supporters
of a ships football team or a regatta boats crew form
a chucking-up party. The expression may originate from the practice
of throwing hats in the air when excited. An early form of this
word was CHUCKER UP
STREET Common slang expression meaning civilian life.
slang name for non-uniform clothes.
Old Naval slang name for the pastry top to a pie; synonyms are
CLAGGER and AWNING.
INTO Navalese for to dress
oneself in the rig ordered. Thus one used to get the
anomalous order to Clean into coaling rig.
JUICE Naval slang for Milk.
MEAL Sailors slang name for bacon and tomatoes.
If onions and bubble n squeak are added, the meal is called
"Train Smash"(Because it looks like a train wreck)
Services slang name for Laundry - both the firm who does
the work and the materials which are washed; from Hindustani. A
Dhobey Firm is a man (or men) who do other mens laundry for
IN Common slang for
"Help yourself" (to food)
OUT Common slang for "Work hard", "Get
down to it".
Common slang name for someone of very little importance
DRINK Maritime slang name for the Sea. Synonyms are
the Ditch, the Pond, and the Oggin.
RUN The naval name for a trial or practice in which
all the motions are gone through but nothing else. E.g., in a gunnery
dummy run all the motions of laying, setting, loading and firing
are gone through meticulously but the gun is not actually fired.
The expression is therefore freely used in the Navy to mean a rehearsal.
DUFF Naval name for any kind of steamed
suet pudding, whether or not it contains figs.
END To fag is to separate or tease out
the strands of a rope; thus the fag end is the extreme end. This
expression has no original connection with cigarettes.
FACE LIKE A SEABOOT A nautical way of describing
an expressionless face.
ADAMS Miss Fanny (or Frances) Adams was a child aged
9 who was murdered at Alton, Hants on 24th April 1867.
The murderer (Frederick Baker, a solicitors clerk aged 24)
cut up the body into pieces some of which were said to have been
found in Deptford Victualling yard. Baker was tried at Winchester
and hanged in December 1867. At about this time tinned mutton was
introduced into the Navy and somewhat naturally it soon acquired
the name of Fanny Adams. The tins themselves were found very useful
by the sailors as mess gear (there was no official issue of mess
gear in those days) and to this day the name FANNY remains attached
to the small round "mess kettle" (similar in appearance
to a painters pot - also called a kettle).
A naval slang name for a torpedo: synonyms are MOULDY, TINFISH,
EYES Sailors slang name for tapioca pudding.
A Fleet Air Arm officers slang name for any non-flying
FLEET A naval slang collective name for unmarried
ladies, who frequent the Ladies Lounge of the Union Club in
Valletta, Malta (or other places where naval officers are much to
be found ashore).
ABACK The accepted naval way of describing a sailors
cap jammed on the back of his head. It was a sailing ship expression
said of square sails when the wind blew from right ahead.
AND AFTER Old officers slang name for the uniform
FOUL ANCHOR Commonly known as "the seamans
disgrace", the foul anchor was the seal of the Earl of Nottingham,
Lord High Admiral in 1600; as Lord Howard of Effingham the Earl
had been in command of the British forces which defeated the Spanish
Armada in July 1588.
Old sailors slang name for Raisins.
Naval name for a non-alcoholic drink such as lemonade; the place
where goffers are sold is the Goffer Bar. Before the days of NAAFI
soda fountains, goffers were often made and sold on board by authorised
members of the ships company, known as the Goffer Firm. Sometimes
erroneously spelt Gopher (from Genesis vi.14.).
GOLDEN RIVET An old mythological story was that one
of the rivets in the lower parts of the ships hull was made
of gold. The golden rivet is as fabulous as the Key of the Starboard
watch and a Hammock ladder and, like them, has covered many a new
entry with confusion. In other words, it didnt exist.
Common slang name for medals and decorations.
Sailors slang for sentimental.
name for latrines - originally sited in the extreme bow - or head
- of the ship. The rating responsible for their general cleanliness
is the CAPTAIN OF THE HEADS.
HOG OUT A naval expression meaning to scrub or clean
thoroughly. It comes from the name (hog) of the special brush made
of birch twigs provided in bygone days for cleaning a sailing ships
AND SAGGING Unfair strains and stresses are set up
in a ships structure when part of her hull is unsupported.
When waves are supporting the bows and stern of a ship but not her
amidships part (i.e., when the hull tends to assume a concave shape),
the ship is said to be sagging: when the amidships part is supported
but not the extremities (i.e., when the hull tends to become convex),
the ship is said to be hogging.
Naval name for a gap, such as an area on a ships side
left unpainted, or a space on a clothes line between pieces of linen
hung out to dry.
OR HUGGER-MUGGER An old naval
word meaning slovenly, confused, muddled.
slang name for the money paid to individuals on pay day (ratings
are paid fortnightly).
old naval slang word for a reprimand, a telling off.
OR TO JETTISON To throw
OR JEWING Naval nickname
for tailoring. This may have originated from the fact that tailoring
is a popular profession among Jews, or "J" was substituted
FIRM A sailor on board who in his spare time does
tailoring for others.
BAG or BUNDLE The bag in which a sailor keeps his sewing
gear. Also called a HOUSEWIFE.
OR CUT OF HIS JIB A maritime
phrase descriptive of a persons facial appearance. It comes
from the days of sail when a ships nationality could be told
at a distance by the cut of her sails.
JUDAS Said of a rope when insecurely made fast or
belayed, i.e. false and unreliable as was Judas.
(or CAGG) Naval slang name for an argument - defined
as "positive assertion followed by flat contradiction and culminating
in personal abuse."
LEAD A sailors slang name for tinned tomatoes.
A LEG In the days when women used to be allowed to
sleep on board they were allowed to lie in and the call "Show
a leg" was made to see that it really was a woman who was enjoying
The old cry was "Show a leg or else a pursers stocking".
LONG SHIP An officers
slang expression applied to a lengthy interval between drinks or
to slowness in showing hospitality.
TOM A paint brush lashed to the end of a long pole,
used for painting places difficult of access.
WIFE Sailors slang name for table-salt
(from Genesis XIX.26).
HOLE The opening or hatchway in the deck of the tops
on sailing ships masts, provided as a means of access to the
tops for those lubbers afraid to climb up via the futtock-shrouds.
LINE The mark on the binnacle which is brought to
meet the desired point on the compass-card. So called because a
real seaman can do without it.
OR TO LURK Originally, to
lurk someone was to impose on his kindness to do something
for you. Nowadays the word is merely a naval synonym for to detail
someone for a job, though it implies that the job is one for which
no volunteers are forthcoming.
A SIGNAL Naval signals are made not sent.
OR A MAKERS The official naval name for a half day
off. It comes from the old pipe "Hands to Make and Mend Clothes",
the traditional occupation for the hands when no official ships
work is to be carried out, see UNIFORM (Ratings) "Make-and-mend
pud" is a slang name for a stodgy pudding which should assist
its eaters to sleep heavily after lunch.
THE GUNNERS DAUGHTER An old naval expression meaning
to be laid over a gun to receive a thrashing.
or DOCKYARD MATEY The navys affectionately
offensive name for a dockyard workman.
Men who for any reason have failed to attend a general occasion
or parade - such as payment, medical inspection, etc.
- attend at a later session, specially arranged for them, as "Missmusters",
because they have missed the original muster.
DOG FOR A WHITE MONKEY To "give a black dog
for a white monkey" is an old naval way of expressing a fair
exchange - a quid pre quo.
MOORE An old naval synonym for fair play; from a
Maltese innkeepers sign - "Charlie Moore, the fair thing"
A naval slang name for a torpedo (said to be an allusion to
the mole): synonyms are KIPPER, TIN-FISH, TAMPEEDIE.
A sailors slang name for food: perhaps from the French
Manger but more probably from the Maltese Mangiare (to eat).
MUSTER YOUR BAG A naval metaphorical expression
meaning to be seasick.
Naval name for an officer or rating whose home is in the port
where the ship is lying. A native is sometimes said to be "changing
his name to Nippinoff" from the rapidity with which, it seems
to non-natives, he goes ashore!
NAVY The old naval mans term of contempt for
An old naval name for a ships biscuit - something to nibble.
NICKNAMES FOR MEN The
following nicknames have at one time or another (some for long periods:
some for short) been current in the Navy for men with these surnames:-
Naval slang name for chocolate, whether or not it contains nuts.
OR IN THE OFFING Old naval
expression meaning near at hand; originally it meant a distance
from the shore - i.e., towards the horizon.
OGGIN Modern sailors slang for the sea; it
is said to be derived from Hogwash, though some assert that it comes
from a mispronouncement of Ocean. Synonyms are The Ditch, The Pond,
The Drink, all three of which words are used by officers more often
OR BOMBAY OYSTER A old maritime
name for a laxative draught consisting of a double dose of caster
oil in a glass of milk; a more modern name for such a laxative would
A morning-after reviver composed of port wine, worcester sauce,
red pepper, mustard and the unbroken yolk of an egg.
ON PASSION Modern sailors slang name for mails
Naval abbreviation of the word "Perquisites", referring
to allowances, either in money or in kind, given with any particular
office or appointment.
POKE CHARLIE A common slang expression meaning to
treat anyone or anything with derision - to make fun of.
Old sailors slang name for Jam or Marmalade.
OR TO PUSH THE BOAT OUT Old
navel expression meaning to stand drinks all round.
The inevitable corruption of PURSER and/or PAYMASTER.
BUILT Naval slang description of an officer or rating
who abides closely to the letter of the regulations.
An adjective used to describe any article of service stores,
especially clothing, to differentiate it from the similar article
bought from civilian sources.
CRABS Naval slang name for boots bought from
the slop room.
CRABFAT Naval slang name for Admiralty pattern grey
DIRK Slang name for the uniform clasp-knife, part
of every seamans kit.
TALLY Naval slang for a false name, such as may be
given by a malefactor to the patrol or on other occasions when the
concealment of a mans own name seems desirable.
VINOLIA Naval slang name for soap, particularly for
Admiralty pattern hard yellow soap.
THE PUTTY Naval slang expression for Aground.
Naval slang name given to articles taken, or intended to
be taken, ashore privately. Originally "rabbits" were
things taken ashore improperly (i.e. theft or smuggling - the name
arose from the ease with which tobacco, etc., could be concealed
in the inside of a dead rabbit) but with the passenger of time the
application of the word has spread to anything taken ashore; an
air of impropriety nevertheless still hangs over the use of the
word, whether or not this is justified (it seldom is). Hence the
phrase "Tuck its ears in", often said to an officer or
rating seen going ashore with a parcel.
RIG OF THE DAY Naval name for the type of uniform
directed to be worn each day; it is piped at breakfast time in each
RUB Naval expression meaning the Blame or Responsibility.
RUB OR RUBBER Naval slang word for a Loan.
RUB OF THE GREEN OR A GREEN RUB Naval slang expression
for an Unfortunate mishap.
LUCK Old maritime expression meaning No success at
all. It is said to be derived from the many anglers who sat on the
bridge at Saltash for hours and caught nothing but colds.
A SCRUBBING Naval slang for Receiving a reprimand.
SCRUB ROUND Naval slang for To avoid (from the course
pursued by some chairwoman - and other wielders of a scrubbing brush).
OR SCUPPERED Naval slang
for Killed. In the days of sail, if a man on deck was washed into
the lee scuppers by a heavy sea he was almost certain to sustain
at least serious injury.
OR LOWER DECK LAWYER Naval name for a sailor who
is fond of arguing and would have one believe that he knows all
the regulations. Usually an excellent example of a little learning
LIKE A SEA-BOOT Naval expression for a mans
face devoid of any expression - or a womans face devoid of
A full set of moustache, beard and side whiskers..
SEVEN BELLS OUT OF A MAN An old naval expression
for the giving of a sound thrashing (the nautical equivalent of
"Knocking a man for six"); presumably to knock all eight
bells out of a man would be to kill him! If you scare the TEN BELLS
out of someone, they are dead and have come back!!!
UP Said of a man who is completely drunk and incapable
- so much so that he might just as well be sewn up in his hammock
and tripped over the side.
Expressed of anything in which there is a suspicion of short
measure. E.g., a rating may say that he received a shaky tot, meaning
that he thinks his rum ration was of short measure.
SHALOLOO Old naval name for a boaster, or braggart.
As an epithet applied to a ship it denotes slackness.
SHOVE ONES OAR IN Old naval expression meaning
to interrupt, to break into someone elses conversation.
A word often used in naval circles in circumstances when
a civilian might refer to a "Do-hickey", a "What-not",
A sip from a messmates tot of rum or grog; an illegal
practice that started in the 1939?45 war and became a customary
birthday gift to a lucky sailor from all his messmates, often with
disastrous results. But compare the wardroom birthday practice whereby
the birthday boy provides drinks for his messmates!
Naval name for any article of clothing (ready-made) which can
be purchased from the ships clothing store. Slops were introduced
into the Navy in 1623. The compartment in a ship where slops are
kept and issued is called the SLOP ROOM. The intending purchaser
indents for his requirements on an established form called a SLOP
CHIT; this name has come to mean metaphorically the amount of work
a man has to do or responsibility he assumes, in the phrase "Its
on your slop chit now".
Mobile slop room introduced at Portsmouth in July, 1954.
SNAKE PIT Formal naval officers slang name
for the ladies lounge of the Union Club, Valletta, Malta =
a favourite haunt of the Fishing Fleet.
name for a boot-repairer or cobbler.
IN THE SNOW Sailors slang name for Sausages
and Mashed Potatoes.
Naval slang work meaning "Finish" - used as either
a verb or a noun. From the Maltese word of that meaning.
AND STARBOARD In the earliest ships there was no
rudder and the ship was steered by a "Steerboard" (large
car or sweep) sited over the right-hand side of the stern; hence
that side of the ship came to be known as the Starboard side. The
other side of the ship was in consequence used for going alongside
for embarking or disembarking cargo through the load-ports;
the left hand side of the ship therefore became known as the "Loadboard"
side, the "Larboard". As the use of this latter word inevitably
caused confusion with the word Starboard, the word Port came to
be used instead. By some authorities, the Venetians are given the
credit for the origin of "the word" - board
comes from the Italian Borda meaning side; the side
with the steering oar was Questa borda: the other side
was Quella boarda; these two expressions would rapidly
become adapted into Starboard and Larboard.
A GLASS RINGING ....
It is an old tradition that a ringing glass must
be silenced without delay; the old saying is "Stop a glass
ringing to save a sailor drowning".
A bucketful of strong soda water, used for cleaning paintwork,
etc. Usually referred to as a drop of strongers
IT Slang expression meaning
"Dont worry about it"m "postpone" or "cancel".
The motto of the VERNON is irreverently quoted as "Swing it
TACK Old slang name for ships biscuit.
TACK Old slang name for bread.
THE WRONG TACK Naval expression meaning doing things
incorrectly or pursing the wrong line in an argument. A sailing
ship makes progress towards the direction from which the wind is
blowing by tacking; so a ship on the wrong tank is progressing in
the wrong direction. It has been suggested that a ship on the wrong
tack is one on the port tack, whose responsibility it is to give
way to a ship on the starboard tank.
Slang word meaning Name; hence, Cap-tally (= cap-ribbon with
ships name on it), Death-tally (= identity disc).
TAUT HAND A good all-round seaman whom everyone respects.
TOM A paint brush lashed to the end of a long pole,
used for painting inaccessible places.
AND GO An expression commonly used to mean uncertainty.
It is of maritime origin and refers to a ship touching the sea-bottom
and then slipping off.
SMASH A lower deck name for bacon and tinned tomatoes.
TRICK The naval name for a spell of duty, a watch,
particularly as coxswain at the steering wheel.
Sailors slang name for his feet.
HAVE A WEED ON Sailors slang for having a grievance
and dilating on it.
OFF Naval slang for awarding punishment. Clearly
this use of the word comes from the idea of the scales of Justice.
Sailors satirical slang name for Sardines.
Any young rating who has been adopted as his particular
friend - taken under his wing - by a senior rating. The word was
not a complimentary one, though with the passage of time its original
insinuation is probably nowadays seldom appreciated.
SUN IS OVER THE YARDARM (OR FORE YARD) Naval officers
expression meaning "It is time for a drink", it is bad
form to have a drink on board before sun is over the yardarm, i.e.
approaching noon. The last word of this phrase is more correctly
FOREYARD that YARDARM.
ARM CLEARING To clear ones yard, or yard arm,
is to clear oneself of blame, either before or after an incident has
occurred. Thus an order which puts responsibility on someone else
is known as a YARD ARM CLEARER.