Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/28/22: Nautical Slang

Let’s sail away

The world of boating has its own set of slang: starboard, port, bow, stern, limey, crow’s nest. But there’s always room for more. In some other world, it might be these terms.


Newfangled Nautical Slang

Ammunition-in: It’s time for a drink because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere

Allee: A nearby room or place where one can change from dry clothes to wet

Bread and Beer: Life expectancy after a two-day ship’s tour

Buddy: A signalman

Bugler: An operator on the bridge of a ship, who blows the order “Watch the water!”

Buggerhead: The head of the bridge

Bollard: Someone taking his turn standing on a conveyor belt to watch the ship’s ballast tanks

Brawling: Greasing an enemy’s hatch to try to prevent its locking

Bouffanting: When a young man reaches manhood and goes into the navy

Boos: The genteel way of swearing or shouting, as opposed to any of the more vulgar uses of profanity

Bulldoggin’: Gossiping, passing notes, cussin’ and hustlin’

Cookies: A simple solution to maritime traffic problems by encouraging caution and keeping the customer informed about frequent changes of equipment settings

Crabbin’: Bulldoggin’ (see above)

Dumb, Dummie: Cussing

Emory: To hump in a bunk

Emergency-A: To carry out a direct order

Cretian of Citesquis-Martín: A fictional sailor who appeared frequently in popular magazines or plays in the late 1800s, such as “Telling the Story of Duma.” To be called a Cretian is to be a real seaman.

Crew Perfume: To open the hatch more than five times in a row

Diamantal: An ocean wind.

Ding: The surface of an ocean

Fairweathers: The bridge-keepers, sailors or officers aboard whose careers were spent at sea and who would talk to the natives

Fairweather lamps: The green lancing lights at the mastheads of some ships, which were used to help find the fairweathers who were missing

Falling off a pier: The equivalent of “breaking the water” or “kicking the bucket” for the ship

Fall ’em all: Retreat; abandon ship

Foggia Lamanta: The waters from a great bay that bears the ship

Heatshock: Rapid descent of the ship’s bow below the water line, due to a collision or collision with another ship

Kittynapping: To crawl out from under a plexiglass box on deck

Large Dish: A brass or copper bottomed bronze glass plate, on which a portrait or figure of the Captain is painted

Lurge: Fuel from a ship’s engines

Lurgey: A sailor who is in jail

Lionette: A dog treasured by the crew as a mascot. The most famous example is probably La Stella from Dutch Ampirico, a well-liked bull terrier that was attacked as it crossed the river from a neighboring city.

Moisture: A puddle that is a mess caused by weathering or getting into trouble in a sailing ship’s cargo hold.

Orange: Archaic Canadian term for sinusoidal wave, like when the ship moves across the water with the sea going out and coming in

Pusher: Crewman who pulls on ropes to maintain the speed of a vessel

Punty: The water closet or (sometimes called only “the pen”)

Punty-boat: A narrow-beamed wooden boat or rowboat used to convey a body, as well as the land crew, from shore to the mortuary

Punto (seaman): One-half of a seaman

Reading Room: Officers’ cabins located just below the bridge, above the ordinary seaman’s

Rocking Horse: When a ship is rolling so the edge of the main (top) mast touches the water

Round-Heeled Ship: A type of ship that was built with two decks, each approximately three times as high as the original two decks. These were largely a curiosity and did not last in large numbers.

Roundback: A ship that is side-on to the wind or a beam to which the ship is steered

Rugby ball: Archaic term used by Royal Canadian Navy sailors for the seamen’s mess

Shot from close quarters: To mark the beginning of each ship’s training phase by leaving all of its components out in the open.

Smooth sailing boat: A large boat with two legs, a vessel capable of steering or even stopping, for which, therefore, it needs legs

Wreck Barrier: A system of floating obstructions that lines the entrance to the construction or maintenance area and prevents waste from being thrown into the water

Whisper: The noise of a submarine breathing underwater

Wigwag (also Wiggie): Fitted with one or more telescopic poles to serve as navigation aids

Working the Clock:
To watch for ships during a sea watch

Worlds Apart: When the lead ship of a line or division is in close proximity to a second ship, so that the end of the second ship is the forward end of the lead ship’s bow

Winkle: The most difficult navigational hazard to avoid

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