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 "Bow line" mean?

Meaning: A mooring line from the bow to the shore.

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What does "Bow roller" mean?

Meaning: Fitting over which the anchor chain runs.

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What does "Bowline" mean?

Meaning: A loop in the end of a rope.

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What does "Brace up" mean?

Today it means: Get ready, ready for anything.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Brace up

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What does "Bristol fashion" mean?

Today it means: Derogatory term for slaves accommodation onboard ship or a well built ship.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Bristol fashion

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What does "Broad in the beam" mean?

Today it means: Large backside or rear end.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Broad in the beam

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What does "Broad reach" mean?

Meaning: A point of sail with the wind abaft the beam.

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What does "Broadcast" mean?

Today it means: Throw something widely, in no general direction.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Broadcast

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What does "Brought up short" mean?

Today it means: Found wanting, not enough.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Brought up short

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What does "Buccaneers" mean?

Today it means: Pirate

Nautical origin of the phrase: Buccaneers

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What does "Bunt" mean?

Meaning: Gathered up sail not being used when reefed.

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What does "Buoy" mean?

Meaning: A floating object used for navigation or mooring.

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What does "Burgee" mean?

Meaning: A small masthead flag.

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What does "Burning your boats" mean?

Today it means: No going back.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Burning your boats

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What does "By and large" mean?

Today it means: All things considered or generally speaking.

Nautical origin of the phrase: By and large

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What does "By the wayside" mean?

Today it means: To stop doing something, fail to finish something.

Nautical origin of the phrase: By the wayside

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What does "Cable" mean?

Meaning: A tenth of a nautical mile.

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What does "Canvas" mean?

Today it means: Hard wearing woven sheet

Nautical origin of the phrase: Canvas

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What does "Careen" mean?

Meaning: Put a vessel on its side for repairs.

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What does "Cash on the nail" mean?

Today it means: Pay up now.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Cash on the nail

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What does "Cast off" mean?

Meaning: The act of letting go

More about: Cast off

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What does "Castaway" mean?

Today it means: Throw something in a specific direction.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Castaway

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What does "Catermaran" mean?

Meaning: A twin hulled vessel.

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What does "Centreboard" mean?

Meaning: A board lowered through the centreline of a boat.

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What does "Centreline" mean?

Meaning: Imaginary line running fore and aft.

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What does "Chance your arm" mean?

Today it means: Take a risk.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Chance your arm

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What does "Chart datum" mean?

Meaning: The lowest level at tide is likely to fall.

More about: Chart datum

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What does "Chew the fat" mean?

Today it means: Chat, discuss, debate, natter.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Chew the fat

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What does "Chock a block" mean?

Today it means: Full up. No more room.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Chock a block

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What does "Clear air" mean?

Meaning: Un-affected wind.

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