AVAST - "Avast Ye!" from the Dutch term for 'hold fast' and means "Stop and pay attention.", like, "Get a load of this."
TAKE A CAULK - on deck of a ship, between planks, was a thick caulk of black tar and rope to keep water from between decks. This term came to mean to "take a nap" either because sailors who slept on deck ended up with black lines across their backs or simply because sailors laying down on deck were as horizontal as the caulk of the deck itself.
POOP DECK - the deck at the furthest back of a ship. Usually above the captain's quarters, the poopdeck was usually the highest deck of the ship.
HEAD - A marine toilet, which could be no more than a hole cut in the decking at the head or bow of the ship that would allow waste to go into the sea, the waves hopefully washing away what may have not hit the water (also called a jardin), NOT the same as the poop deck!
HEADIES - tasty nuggets, not like what the ropes or sails were made out of...the good stuff ye save fer ye head!
DUNGBIE - rear end
DANCE THE HEMPEN JIG - To hang, (rope was often made of hemp fibers)
HEMPEN HALTER - The hangman's noose.
JACOB'S LADDER - the rope ladder used to climb aboard the ship
MONKEY - A small cannon
MONKEY JACKET - a short waist jacket worn by midshipmen (be sure to bring plenty of 'monkey jackets'
POWDER MONKEY - a gunner's assistant
SHIVER ME TIMBERS! - akin to "BLOW ME DOWN!", an expression of shock or disbelief, believed to come from the sound the ship made when 'shocked' by running aground or hit by a cannon blast.
DOG -- A mild insult, perhaps even a friendly one
SCURVY - Vile; mean; low; vulgar; contemptible. Ye Scurvy Dogs!
BUCKO - Friend (Also MATEY)
ME HEARTIES - My Comrade; boon companion; good fellow; a term of familiar address and fellowship among sailors. Captains often refer to their entire crew this way.
CHANDLER or SUTLER - supplier
SMARTLY - quickly
YO-HO-HO - completely meaningless, but fun to say
AYE - Yes. Aye, aye captain!
DEADLIGHTS - yer eyes matey!
LIGHTS -- Lungs. A pirate might threaten to "have someone's lights and liver."
SPLICE THE MAINBRACE -- To have a drink. Or, perhaps, several drinks.
GUNWALLS - the "sides" of the top deck. These "walls" were the only thing keeping things on deck from sliding into the water. Of course, these railings and walls had openings for the heavy arms or guns.
LOADED TO THE GUNWALLS OR LOAD THE GUNWALLS - drunk
"TO BE THREE SHEETS IN THE WIND" - Casting out all three sails, causing the ship to shudder and stagger like a drunken sailor.
CLAP OF THUNDER - powerful drink
HOGSHEAD - a large cask used to transport beer or wine. The Hogshead was an archaic unit of measurement of approximately 100 gallons.
PRESS GANG - a group of sailors who "recruit" for their ship using violence and intimidation. a fovorite technique was to get somone passed-out drunk and kidnap them, so when they woke, they're already out to sea
CRIMP - a person who is tricked or press ganged into serving on a crew
CRACK JENNY'S TEACUP - To spend the night in a house of ill repute
YELLOW JACK - like any "jack" or flag, the yellow jack was used to indicate a particular disposition of a ship. In this case the yellow was to signify the yellow fever. A yellow flag flying meant that there was illness aboard. Often this was used to trick pyrates away from potential targets.
DUFFLE - everything a sailor owns, also the nickname for the bag which holds it
REEF - to shorten sail by rolling up the bottom section and securing it by tying short lines attached to the sail
SON OF A BISCUIT EATER - derrogatory term indicating a bastard son of a sailor
COAMING - A vertical rim surrounding hatch openings and such to keep any water on deck from entering below it, excellent for tripping on
COME ABOUT - to bring the ship full way around in the wind. Used in general while sailing into the wind, but also used to indicate a swing back into the enemy in combat.
CACKLE FRUIT - chicken eggs
QUARTER - deriving from the idea of "shelter", quarter was given when mercy was offered by the pyrates. To give no quarter was to indicate that none would be spared. Quarter was often the prize given to an honourable loser in a pyrate fight. If enraged, however, a pyrate would deprive the loser any such luxury.
BLACK SPOTTED - Similar to being black balled. it marks a pirate for death
HORNSWAGGLE - To cheat or defraud, often of money or belongings, Yosemite Sam knows a lot about it
BINNACLE - from the Latin word for 'dwelling place', a box or case which houses the compass upon the deck.
COCKSWAIN - originally the Captain's attendant who would row him to and from the ship, later came to mean the helmsman
TITIVATE - To clean up or make shipshape.
JURY MAST - a temporary or make-shift mast erected on a sea vessel after the mainmast has been destroyed. Often, in combat, the mast was the most damaged (providing the ship didn't sink). Without the mast, a ship was powerless, so a term grew out of the need to make masts to power damaged ships.
ALL HANDS HOAY! - "All Hands on Deck!", everyone on the ship called to the deck, usually for action
DAVY JONES'S LOCKER - the imaginary place at the ocean bottom that holds dead sailors and pirates...a reference to death. Davy Jones was said to be an evil spirit lurking at sea, waiting to escort dead sailors or pirates to his place or locker at the bottom of the waters. He went on to have a successful music career with the Monkees many years later.
To be in DAVY'S GRIP: To be close to death, or frightened.
To have the DAVIES or the JONESEYES: To be frightened (OR IN NEED)
To see you to DAVY JONES: To threaten to kill some one
BILGE - The lowest part inside the ship, within the hull itself. If any place on the ship was going to be DANK and musty, the bilge was such a place. (sounds like a puffin' den to me
) Bilge water stinks terribly.
BILGE-SUCKING - A very uncomplimentary adjective.
SWING THE LEAD - A lead weight swung from a line into water when near shore was a way to measure depth, the job's simple requirements caused the phrase to evolve into a term for slacking off
JACK TAR - a sailor. early sailor's tarpaulin clothing was infused with tar, which some say also deflected sword blows in addition to shedding water, similar to JOE BLOW or John Q. Public
FREEBOOTER - from the Dutch for 'free' and 'plunder', reference to a pirate
BOOTY - goods or property seized by force or piracy
SWAG - Stolen loot
FLOGGING- Punishment by caning
KISS THE GUNNER'S DAUGHTER - A punishment: to be bent over one of the ship's guns and flogged.
MIZZEN - the middle of the ship, the mizzenmast was either the center of three or the main large mast in the center of the deck (i.e. I'LL SHAZEEYA MIZZEN TO PUFFIZZLE FASHIZZLE AND TIZZLE MYNIZZLE)
TO GO ON ACCOUNT - a pleasant term used by pyrates to describe the act of turning pyrate. Living the life of a pirate.
SCALLYWAG - A deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.
SQUIFFY - A buffoon
BUCCANEER - originally a term for those privateers who fought against the Spanish, later a general term for pyrates of the atlantic, specifically the Caribbean. Buccaneers were said to be heavy drinking pyrates.
LANDLUBBER - a term given to one fond of land as opposed to sea. The terms doesn't derive from "land lover" but rather from the root of "lubber" which means clumsy or uncoordinated. Thus, a landlubber is one who is awkward at sea for familiarity with the land. Of course, this terms was used to insult the abilities of one at sea.
JOLLY BOAT - a light boat carried at the stern of a larger sailing ship. This (probably) Danish Yawl (jol), proved better at high sea when a larger ship could harldy carry any sail.
SEA LEGS - after walking on a ship for long periods of time, sailors became accustomed to the rocking of the ship in the water. So, early in a voyage a sailor was said to be lacking his "sea legs" when the ship motion was still foreign to him. Often, after a cruise, a sailor would have trouble regaining his "land legs" and would swagger on land.
KEEL HAUL - another term made famous by pyrates. This is the act of throwing a man overboard, tied to a rope that goes beneath the ship, and then dragging him from one side to the other and hauling him out. Besides the torment of being dragged under water, this would drag the victim across the barnacle studded ship's hull and cause great pain and injury. This was a serious punishment and not administered lightly.
DRIVELSWIGGER - one who reads about nautical terms too much
The "-tion" found at the end of words like "locomotion" and "promotion" is pronounced "-seeon". So, don't say "locomoshun", but "locomoseeon"; not "promoshun", but "promoseeon".
There are a few letters you should never pronounce. The first of them is "g". Drop all your "g"'s when you speak and you'll get words like "rowin'", "sailin'" and "fightin'". Dropping all of your "v"'s will get you words like "ne'er", "e'er" and "o'er".
Big, Bigger, Big Biggest!
Pirates are dramatic, and their speech is doubly so. Pirates never speak of "a big ship", they call it a "great, grand ship!" They never say never, they say "No nay ne'er!" Double up on all your adjectives and you'll be bountifully bombastic with your phrasing.
The conjugation is a rather modern invention, one that sailors always seem to be forgetting. Take the verb "to be" for example. Instead of saying "I am", sailors say, "I be". Instead of saying "You are", sailors say, "You be". Instead of saying, "They are", sailors say, "They be". Makes things a lot simpler, doesn't it?
Using Nautical Terms
Another technique for sounding more "piratey" is to use nautical terms. Here are some examples.
"Indeed were I taken aback!": I was surprised.
"And just as I were forgin' ahead through the crowd…": As I was making my way through the crowd…
Pirates are a notoriously superstitious lot. Not only do they inhabit a world of vengeful spirits and ghost ships, but they also believe that using certain words when aboard a ship will give offence to King Neptune. Things whih are not to be mentioned include women, cats and the terms left and right, hence the elaborate taboo language which grew up around these things.
Hmmmmmm....How can we twist these innocent, wonderful vocabulary words into a fun sentence:
Be shore to wear ye 'monkey jacket' if ye be plannin to 'go on account', 'cracking Jenny's teacup' with some 'powder monkey', cause if ye don't, ye may end up 'black spotted' and find yeself hangin' a 'yellow jack' on yer 'jury mast', which could hurt wurse than a 'keel haul' when ye pee!
SHIVER ME TIMBERS!!!
What sentences can YOU make with the new pirate words you've just learned?