A cock up

What does "A cock up" mean?

Today it means: Made a mess of things. Mistake.

There are many versions of this saying but the nautical version refers to yards (yardarms) being left cocked up or not straight and in a seaman like manner.

Sometimes yardarms would need to be moved out of the way quickly so as not to clash with other vessels or buildings when in harbour. The quickest way was to pull on the brace so as to cock the yard out of the way. Left too late made it a "cock up".

See also: Mainbrace  and: Splice the mainbrace  and: Square up

By SailingQuiz November 2019   Category: Nautical Saying              



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Nautical sayings and phrases

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What does A cock up mean?

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