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 "Clew" mean?

Meaning: Lower trailing corner of a sail.

More about: Clew

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What does "Close hauled" mean?

Meaning: To sail as close to the wind as possible.

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What does "Close quarters" mean?

Today it means: Really close, close contact.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Close quarters

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What does "Close reach" mean?

Meaning: A point of sail.

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What does "Coaming" mean?

Meaning: Raised superstructure around the cockpit.

More about: Coaming

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What does "Cockpit" mean?

Meaning: The area where the helmsman and crew work.

More about: Cockpit

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What does "Companionway" mean?

Meaning: Access from one deck to another.

More about: Companionway

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What does "Cop a packet" mean?

Today it means: There's trouble coming.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Cop a packet

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What does "Copper bottom" mean?

Today it means: Very good, the best, well made or un-likely to fail

Nautical origin of the phrase: Copper bottom

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What does "Crabfat" mean?

Today it means: Aircrew on board a Navy ship.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Crabfat

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What does "Crack on" mean?

Today it means: Keep going, press on, continue

Nautical origin of the phrase: Crack on

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What does "Cringle" mean?

Meaning: An eyelet around the edges of a sail.

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What does "Cross trees" mean?

Meaning: Struts on masts for holding out shrouds.

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What does "Cunningham" mean?

Meaning: A line used to tension sails.

More about: Cunningham

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What does "Cut and run" mean?

Today it means: Do a deed then run away.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Cut and run

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What does "Davy Jones Locker" mean?

Today it means: The bottom of the sea.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Davy Jones Locker

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What does "Dead in the water" mean?

Today it means: Doomed, wont succeed, not able to function.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Dead in the water

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What does "Dead run" mean?

Meaning: Sailing with the wind directly astern.

More about: Dead run

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What does "Deep six" mean?

Today it means: Dispose of permenantly, destroy

Nautical origin of the phrase: Deep six

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What does "Deliver a broadside" mean?

Today it means: A shattering remark, crushing statement.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Deliver a broadside

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What does "Displacement" mean?

Meaning: A description of the boats weight.

More about: Displacement

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What does "Dogsbody" mean?

Today it means: A person who does menial tasks or boring jobs.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Dogsbody

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What does "Donkey work" mean?

Today it means: Hard or heavy work.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Donkey work

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What does "Downhaul" mean?

Meaning: A control line to pull down a spar or sail.

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What does "Downwind" mean?

Meaning: To leeward or before the wind.

More about: Downwind

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What does "Draft" mean?

Meaning: The depth of boat or camber of the sail.

More about: Draft

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What does "Dressed to the nines" mean?

Today it means: Smartly dressed, best suit and tie, very smart.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Dressed to the nines

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What does "Drogue" mean?

Meaning: A sea anchor.

More about: Drogue

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What does "Dummy run" mean?

Today it means: Practice run, test before release.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Dummy run

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What does "Dutch courage" mean?

Today it means: Have a quick drink before doing something important.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Dutch courage

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