Nautical phrases, sayings and terms

Nautical phrases and sayings explained | SailingQuiz

Nautical phrases, sayings and sailing terms with their meaning.

The sailors jargon buster

Have you ever wondered where some of our everyday phrases and sayings come from and what they mean? There are hundreds in common use in UK and around the world and we have been looking high and low to find them and their meaning. Here are 424 of them where we have cracked the sailors jargon for you. Enjoy!

 
  • Natical Phrases
  • Sailing Terms
  • Trivia
  • Folklore
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What does "Swinging the lead" mean?

Today it means: Taking it easy, not really working hard

Nautical origin of the phrase: Swinging the lead

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Tack" mean?

Meaning: Bottom leading corner of a sail or to bring a vessel through the wind.

More about: Tack

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What does "Taffrail" mean?

Meaning: A guard rail at the stern of a ship.

More about: Taffrail

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What does "Take the wind out of your sails" mean?

Today it means: calm down, deflate, un-settle, slow down

Nautical origin of the phrase: Take the wind out of your sails

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Taken aback" mean?

Today it means: Surprised, shocked, un-expected

Nautical origin of the phrase: Taken aback

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What does "Taken down a peg or two" mean?

Today it means: Blunt someones pride, show them up a bit.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Taken down a peg or two

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Tell it to the Marines" mean?

Today it means: A statement of disbelief, I dont believe you.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Tell it to the Marines

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Tender" mean?

Meaning: A small boat.

More about: Tender

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What does "Thats scuppered your chances" mean?

Today it means: spoiled, ruined, no chance of success now.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Thats scuppered your chances

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Nautical Saying


   

What is "The cat" ?

Today it means: An old and outdated instrument of punishment.

Nautical origin of the phrase: The cat

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Nautical Saying


   

What is "The course sail" ?

Meaning: The course sail is otherwise known as the main.

More about: The course sail

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What does "The devil to pay" mean?

Today it means: Serious trouble ahead.

Nautical origin of the phrase: The devil to pay

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Nautical Saying


   

What is "The distance measurement used in space" ?

Meaning: Nautical miles are used to measure distance in space.

More about: The distance measurement used in space

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What are "The heads" ?

Meaning: The heads are the toilets on board a boat or ship.

More about: The heads

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What is "The order of sails on a tall ship" ?

Meaning: Each sail has its own name.

More about: The order of sails on a tall ship

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What is "The poop deck" ?

Meaning: The poop deck is the rear deck on old sailing ships.

More about: The poop deck

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What does "The real McCoy" mean?

Today it means: The real thing, not an imitation.

Nautical origin of the phrase: The real McCoy

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Nautical Saying


   

What are "The Royal sail" ?

Meaning: Sails set 3rd or 4th from the top of a mast on a tall ship.

More about: The Royal sail

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What does "The sun is over the yardarm" mean?

Today it means: Time for a drink.

Nautical origin of the phrase: The sun is over the yardarm

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "There's a flap on" mean?

Today it means: Rush job, hurry up, in a hurry.

Nautical origin of the phrase: There's a flap on

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Three sheets to the wind" mean?

Today it means: Unsteady on your feet, possibly drunk

Nautical origin of the phrase: Three sheets to the wind

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Thwart" mean?

Meaning: A seat in a dinghy.

More about: Thwart

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What does "Tidy" mean?

Today it means: Well arranged, timely, in good order.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Tidy

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "To the bitter end" mean?

Today it means: Keep going, press on no matter what, until the last

Nautical origin of the phrase: To the bitter end

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Top drawer" mean?

Today it means: Really good, the best, high quality.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Top drawer

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Topgallant" mean?

Meaning: 3rd or 4th sail on the mast of a tall ship.

More about: Topgallant

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What does "Topping lift" mean?

Meaning: A line from the masthead to support the boom.

More about: Topping lift

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What is "Tot" ?

Today it means: A small drink

Nautical origin of the phrase: Tot

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Touch and go" mean?

Today it means: May or may not work

Nautical origin of the phrase: Touch and go

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Nautical Saying


   

What does "Tow rag" mean?

Today it means: Loser, low life or scum; but read on...

Nautical origin of the phrase: Tow rag

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Nautical Saying


   


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