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
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