Many institutions worldwide have developed their own jargon and terminology but I seriously doubt that any have contributed more to the English language than those emanating from the Navy and mariners in general.

Of course the British, Royal Navy is the birthplace for much of it and Australia's Navy having its roots inextricably bound with the RN it naturally followed that we adopted them also.

The following comprehensive collection was provided by Geoff and Julie Baker who put this together for us.


Naval Nicknames

ALL 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.

ACID Sailors’ slang for sarcasm - used in the phrase "Don’t come the old acid"

ACKERS Naval slang name for any foreign currency. The word comes from Egypt, where beggars use it when pleading for baksheesh (Piastres).

ADRIFT This is the accepted Naval word for anyone or anything that cannot be found when it is wanted.

A1 The accepted synonym for first-class. In Lloyd’s 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.

ALOFT This comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "alofts" meaning "on high".

- To leave the Navy for good - implying that one has no further use for the implement one has for so long trusted.

Avast! means Hold! Enough! Finish! It comes from the Italian word "Basta".

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.

A common expression - of maritime origin - for constantly changing ground in a decision or argument.

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.

The verb to bale out, meaning to remove water, comes from the old name "boyle" for a bucket.

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!

A sailing expression, meaning to bear the tiller up to windward in order to keep the vessel’s head away from the wind. It is in common use, with the metaphorical meaning of "Keep your spirits up!"

BECKET 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

BELL-BOTTOMED 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.

General Navy slang for "half-witted".

Old Naval slang name for leg-irons (referred to in the phrase "clapped him in irons".

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 of corruption.

Common slang name for stewed prunes.

A Naval slang word for a grumble, used as both noun and verb.

To bleed a buoy is to drain from it any water which may have got inside thus adversely affecting its buoyancy.

To extract rum from its barrel by boring a small hole in the barrel.

THE BIGGEST BLOCK IN THE SHIP is the butcher’s block (Old Naval catch question).

THE BLOKE Sailors’ slang for the Executive Officer, second in command of a ship.

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.

Naval slang name for the Indemnity Certificate required to be signed by a civilian before embarkation in a Service ship or aircraft.

An old Naval slang name for prize money.

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.

Soldier’s slang name for a sailor.

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.

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 Boat’s Sweyne), who acted as Master and Steerman. The Bo’sun 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".

Slang word for any hubbub, from Pidgin English; probably from an Indian soldier’s customary shrill outcry when disturbed.

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).

Common (originally Naval) slang for to pilfer, steal or scrounge. The word comes from the name of a Boatswain in Admiral Cornwallis’s 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".

An old Naval phrase descriptive of a sailor with his hands in his pockets.

The word "bow" was Anglo-Saxon for shoulder.

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.

Slang expression for bitterly cold weather.

Slang name for the uniform cap worn by officers of Commander’s rank and above; hence generically used to refer to such officers themselves.

Naval nickname for a soldier.

THE (CHIEF) BUFFER Naval nickname for the Chief Bo’sun’s Mate. As he is the Executive Officer’s 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.

BULLOCK 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".

BUN-WORRY (OR BUN-FIGHT) An old Naval officers’ slang name for a tea-party, with ladies, ashore.

JIMMY BUNGS The old Naval nickname for the Cooper rating.

BUM NUTS Naval Term for eggs

.TO GO ROUND THE BUOY Naval slang for to come up (usually surreptitiously) for a second helping of food, especially in cafeteria messing.

BURGOO Sailors’ slang name for porridge. Hence, a Surgoo-eater is a Scotsman.

TO 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.

CHINESE WEDDING CAKE Sailors’ slang name for rice pudding with currants or raisins in it.

TO 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.

CANTEEN MEDALS Naval name for stains down the front of jumper, jacket or coat caused by food or drink.

ROOM 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 Whittington’s cat was really one of these boats!

CAT 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.

TO 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.

CHATTY An old Naval slang word for dirty, untidy. Most often met in the expression "Happy and chatty".

CHEEKS An old nickname (now quite obsolete) for the Royal Marines, derived from the looping up of the tails of their coats.

CHEER 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.

TO 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.

BEEF-CHIT Officers’ slang name for a menu card.

CHOCK 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".

CHUCK Naval slang for a demonstration of applause. Enthusiastic supporters of a ship’s football team or a regatta boat’s 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

CIVVY STREET Common slang expression meaning civilian life.

CIVVIES Common slang name for non-uniform clothes.

CLAKKER Old Naval slang name for the pastry top to a pie; synonyms are CLAGGER and AWNING.

CLEAN INTO Navalese for to dress oneself in the ‘rig’ ordered. Thus one used to get the anomalous order to ‘Clean into coaling rig’.

COW JUICE Naval slang for Milk.

COWBOY 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)

DHOBEY 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 men’s laundry for them.

DIG IN Common slang for "Help yourself" (to food)

DIG OUT Common slang for "Work hard", "Get down to it".

DOGSBODY Common slang name for someone of very little importance

THE DRINK Maritime slang name for the Sea. Synonyms are the Ditch, the Pond, and the Oggin.

DUMMY 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.

FIGGY DUFF Naval name for any kind of steamed suet pudding, whether or not it contains figs.

FAG 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.

A FACE LIKE A SEABOOT A nautical way of describing an expressionless face.

 FANNY 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 solicitor’s 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 painter’s pot - also called a kettle).

FISH A naval slang name for a torpedo: synonyms are MOULDY, TINFISH, KIPPER.

FISHES’ EYES Sailors’ slang name for tapioca pudding.

FISH-HEAD A Fleet Air Arm officers’ slang name for any non-flying naval officer.

FISHING 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).

FLAT ABACK The accepted naval way of describing a sailor’s 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.

FORE AND AFTER Old officers’ slang name for the uniform cocked hat.

THE FOUL ANCHOR Commonly known as "the seaman’s 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.

GAMMIES Old sailor’s slang name for Raisins.

GOFFER 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 ship’s company, known as the Goffer Firm. Sometimes erroneously spelt Gopher (from Genesis vi.14.).

THE GOLDEN RIVET An old mythological story was that one of the rivets in the lower parts of the ship’s 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 didn’t exist.

GONG Common slang name for medals and decorations.

GUMPERS Sailors’ slang for sentimental.

HEADS Naval 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.

TO 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 ship’s bottom.

HOGGING AND SAGGING Unfair strains and stresses are set up in a ship’s 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.

HOLIDAY Naval name for a gap, such as an area on a ship’s side left unpainted, or a space on a clothes line between pieces of linen hung out to dry.

HUGGER OR HUGGER-MUGGER An old naval word meaning slovenly, confused, muddled.

INSULT Naval slang name for the money paid to individuals on pay day (ratings are paid fortnightly).

JAWBATIONAn old naval slang word for a reprimand, a telling off.

JETTISON OR TO JETTISON To throw overboard.

JEW 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 for "S".

JEWING FIRM A sailor on board who in his spare time does tailoring for others.

JEWING BAG or BUNDLE The bag in which a sailor keeps his sewing gear. Also called a HOUSEWIFE.

JIB OR CUT OF HIS JIB A maritime phrase descriptive of a person’s facial appearance. It comes from the days of sail when a ship’s nationality could be told at a distance by the cut of her sails.

HANGING JUDAS Said of a rope when insecurely made fast or belayed, i.e. false and unreliable as was Judas.

KAGG (or CAGG) Naval slang name for an argument - defined as "positive assertion followed by flat contradiction and culminating in personal abuse."

RED LEAD A sailors’ slang name for tinned tomatoes.

SHOW 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 privilege.
The old cry was "Show a leg or else a purser’s stocking".

A LONG SHIP An officers’ slang expression applied to a lengthy interval between drinks or to slowness in showing hospitality.

LONG TOM A paint brush lashed to the end of a long pole, used for painting places difficult of access.

LOT’S WIFE Sailors’ slang name for table-salt (from Genesis XIX.26).

LUBBER’S 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.

LUBBER’S 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.

LURK 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.

MAKE A SIGNAL Naval signals are made not sent.

MAKE-AND-MEND 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 ship’s 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.

MARRY THE GUNNER’S DAUGHTER An old naval expression meaning to be laid over a gun to receive a thrashing.

MATEY or DOCKYARD MATEY The navy’s affectionately offensive name for a dockyard workman.

MISSMUSTERS 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.

BLACK 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.

CHARLIE MOORE An old naval synonym for fair play; from a Maltese innkeeper’s sign - "Charlie Moore, the fair thing" (about 1850).

MOULDY A naval slang name for a torpedo (said to be an allusion to the mole): synonyms are KIPPER, TIN-FISH, TAMPEEDIE.

MUNJY A sailors’ slang name for food: perhaps from the French Manger but more probably from the Maltese Mangiare (to eat).

TO MUSTER YOUR BAG A naval metaphorical expression meaning to be seasick.

NATIVE 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!

NEW NAVY The old naval man’s term of contempt for any innovation.

NIBBY An old naval name for a ship’s biscuit - something to nibble.

NAVAL 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:-

DAISY Bell (as in Cow)



TOMMY Thomas

WIGGY Bennett


DUSTY Miller

TOPSY Turner

CHARLIE Beresford

TOSH Gilbert

PONY Moore

GUY Vaughan


SPUD Murphy





NELLY Wallace

RAJAH Brookes

CHATS Harris

NOSEY Parker



GRANNY Henderson


BANJO West, Patterson

DOGS Baker or Barker

NOBBY Hewitt,Clark,Ingram

JACK Shepherd




JUMPER Short, Collins

TUG Wilson










BOGIE Knight

SPIKE Sullivan, Jones




BUCK Rodgers


HARRY Freeman




DEBBIE Reynolds


NUTTY Naval slang name for chocolate, whether or not it contains nuts.

OFFING OR IN THE OFFING Old naval expression meaning near at hand; originally it meant a distance from the shore - i.e., towards the horizon.

THE 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 than Oggin.

OYSTER 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 be "elephant-rouser".

PRAIRIE-OYSTER A morning-after reviver composed of port wine, worcester sauce, red pepper, mustard and the unbroken yolk of an egg.

BAGS ON PASSION Modern sailors’ slang name for mails from home

PERKS Naval abbreviation of the word "Perquisites", referring to allowances, either in money or in kind, given with any particular office or appointment.

TO POKE CHARLIE A common slang expression meaning to treat anyone or anything with derision - to make fun of.

POZZIE Old sailor’s slang name for Jam or Marmalade.

PUSH OR TO PUSH THE BOAT OUT Old navel expression meaning to stand drinks all round.

PUSSER The inevitable corruption of PURSER and/or PAYMASTER.

PUSSER BUILT Naval slang description of an officer or rating who abides closely to the letter of the regulations.

PUSSERS An adjective used to describe any article of service stores, especially clothing, to differentiate it from the similar article bought from civilian sources.

PUSSERS CRABS Naval slang name for boots bought from the slop room.

PUSSERS CRABFAT Naval slang name for Admiralty pattern grey paint.

PUSSERS DIRK Slang name for the uniform clasp-knife, part of every seaman’s kit.

PUSSERS 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 man’s own name seems desirable.

PUSSERS VINOLIA Naval slang name for soap, particularly for Admiralty pattern hard yellow soap.

ON THE PUTTY Naval slang expression for Aground.

RABBITS 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.

THE 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 ship daily.

THE RUB Naval expression meaning the Blame or Responsibility.

A RUB OR RUBBER Naval slang word for a Loan.

A RUB OF THE GREEN OR A GREEN RUB Naval slang expression for an Unfortunate mishap.

RUMBO Condemned rope.

SALTASH 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.

RECEIVE A SCRUBBING Naval slang for Receiving a reprimand.

TO SCRUB ROUND Naval slang for To avoid (from the course pursued by some chairwoman - and other wielders of a scrubbing brush).

SCUPPER 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.

SEA 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 being dangerous.

FACE LIKE A SEA-BOOT Naval expression for a man’s face devoid of any expression - or a woman’s face devoid of beauty.

SET A full set of moustache, beard and side whiskers..

KNOCK 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!!!

SEWN 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.

SHAKY 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.

JACK SHALOLOO Old naval name for a boaster, or braggart. As an epithet applied to a ship it denotes slackness.

TO SHOVE ONE’S OAR IN Old naval expression meaning to interrupt, to break into someone else’s conversation.

SHOVEWOOD A word often used in naval circles in circumstances when a civilian might refer to a "Do-hickey", a "What-not", a "What-do-you-call-it".

SIPPERS A sip from a messmate’s 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!

SLOPS Naval name for any article of clothing (ready-made) which can be purchased from the ship’s 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 "It’s on your slop chit now".
Mobile slop room introduced at Portsmouth in July, 1954.

THE SNAKE PIT Formal naval officers’ slang name for the ladies’ lounge of the Union Club, Valletta, Malta = a favourite haunt of the Fishing Fleet.

SNOB Naval name for a boot-repairer or cobbler.

FLUATERS IN THE SNOW Sailors’ slang name for Sausages and Mashed Potatoes.

SPITCHER Naval slang work meaning "Finish" - used as either a verb or a noun. From the Maltese word of that meaning.

PORT 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.

STOP 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".

STRONGERS A bucketful of strong soda water, used for cleaning paintwork, etc. Usually referred to as a drop of strongers

SWING IT Slang expression meaning "Don’t worry about it"m "postpone" or "cancel". The motto of the VERNON is irreverently quoted as "Swing it till Monday".

HARD TACK Old slang name for ship’s biscuit.

SOFT TACK Old slang name for bread.

ON 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.

TALLY Slang word meaning Name; hence, Cap-tally (= cap-ribbon with ship’s name on it), Death-tally (= identity disc).

A TAUT HAND A good all-round seaman whom everyone respects.

LONG TOM A paint brush lashed to the end of a long pole, used for painting inaccessible places.

TOUCH 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.

TRAIN SMASH A lower deck name for bacon and tinned tomatoes.

A TRICK The naval name for a spell of duty, a watch, particularly as coxswain at the steering wheel.

WEBS Sailor’s slang name for his feet.

TO HAVE A WEED ON Sailor’s slang for having a grievance and dilating on it.

WEIGH OFF Naval slang for awarding punishment. Clearly this use of the word comes from the idea of the scales of Justice.

WHALES Sailors’ satirical slang name for Sardines.

WINGER 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.

THE 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.

YARD ARM CLEARING To clear one’s 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.

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