For thousands of years, sailors have taken to the water for food, discovery and recreation. Did you know their lives on the water gave birth to some well-known phrases? See how many you can use during your next sail aboard Wild Hearts.
Loose cannon: We bet you know a few people who you’d deem as “loose cannons,” but did you know the term comes from when a ship’s cannon would literally come loose from its lashing?
A square meal: It doesn’t mean you have all the food groups and serving sizes on your plate. Quite literally, wooden plates on tall ships were square.
Pipe down: You may have heard this phrase a time or two growing up, but in nautical terms, “pipe down” was the last signal from the boson’s pipe each day, meaning lights out and time to go to sleep.
Toe the line: If you’ve ever heard this phrase, it was probably in reference to someone who had made some behavioral mistakes and needed to now follow the rules. But in nautical speak it was an old expression referring to a ship’s crew that was called to gather and form a line with their toes all touching a given line of deck planking.
Clean bill of health: Cleanliness on ships hundreds of years ago wasn’t always something to write home about. Ships had to present a certificate declaring a “clean bill of health” communicating either the presence or absence of infectious diseases among the crew and the port they traveled from.
Hand over fist: Today we think of this term in regards to someone who makes a large sum of money quickly. However, in nautical speak, it refers to sailors tugging at lines as fast as they could to trim sheets and raise sails.
Learn more nautical terms in our blog What the Helm? Learn our Sailboat Parts.