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 "Make a rod for your own back." mean?

Today it means: A self imposed problem that might only get worse.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Make a rod for your own back.

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What does "Make fast" mean?

Meaning: To secure an object to stop it moving.

More about: Make fast

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What does "Make out" mean?

Today it means: Can see what it is, understand.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Make out

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What does "Making way" mean?

Meaning: Clearing a path or making a path.

More about: Making way

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What does "Masthead rig" mean?

Meaning: Rigging to the top of the mast.

More about: Masthead rig

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What does "Mate" mean?

Today it means: Friend, buddy.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Mate

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What does "Mess" mean?

Today it means: Un-tidy, confusion or a place to eat and sleep.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Mess

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What does "Mind your P's and Q's" mean?

Today it means: Mind your language.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Mind your P's and Q's

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What does "Mizzen" mean?

Meaning: The aft mast on a sailing ship.

More about: Mizzen

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What does "Money for old rope." mean?

Today it means: Easy money, earn with no effort.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Money for old rope.

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What does "Monohull" mean?

Meaning: A vessel with only one hull.

More about: Monohull

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What does "Moonraker" mean?

Today it means: A native of Wiltshire, England, a silly person.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Moonraker

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What does "Moor" mean?

Meaning: To tie up a vessel.

More about: Moor

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What does "Multihull" mean?

Meaning: A vessel with more than one hull.

More about: Multihull

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What does "Nail your colours to the mast." mean?

Today it means: Show your intentions, let us know what you're doing.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Nail your colours to the mast.

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What does "Navel pipe" mean?

Meaning: See Hawse Pipe.

More about: Navel pipe

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What does "Neap tide" mean?

Meaning: The lesser tide in a lunar month.

More about: Neap tide

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What does "Nipper" mean?

Today it means: Small child, usually male. English slang.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Nipper

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What does "Not enough room to swing a cat" mean?

Today it means: Small space or room

Nautical origin of the phrase: Not enough room to swing a cat

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What does "Now your talking" mean?

Today it means: Making sense, in general agreement.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Now your talking

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What does "Observed position" mean?

Meaning: A form of navigation at sea.

More about: Observed position

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What does "Off and on" mean?

Today it means: Stop and go, not sure if its going to happen.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Off and on

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What does "Offshore" mean?

Meaning: Waters some distance from the coast.

More about: Offshore

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What does "Offwind" mean?

Meaning: Sailing with the wind.

More about: Offwind

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What does "On a even keel" mean?

Today it means: Stable and well balanced

Nautical origin of the phrase: On a even keel

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What does "On the lash" mean?

Today it means: A heavy drinking session.

Nautical origin of the phrase: On the lash

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What does "On the make" mean?

Today it means: Usually, making money, some dodgy deal.

Nautical origin of the phrase: On the make

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What does "On wind" mean?

Meaning: Sailing against the wind.

More about: On wind

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What does "Out of the blue" mean?

Today it means: Unexpected, suddenly.

Nautical origin of the phrase: Out of the blue

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What does "Outhaul" mean?

Meaning: A line used to tension the foot of a sail.

More about: Outhaul

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