The Pirate's Realm
Pirate talk and pirate slang have so many odd-sounding words, but that makes it more fun. Just try to say, Monkey Jacket, Poop deck, or Futtock Shrouds without a grin or a chuckle. There's even an international day for everyone to talk like a pirate! Here's a few of the more amusing & popular examples of pirate talk, pirate slang, pirate words, pirate lingo, and general pirate jargon.
This is the professional pirate talk book! The author was kind to send me a copy for review. I have never seen a more informative, entertaining, and well-researched book about pirate talk anywhere. "The Pirate Primer is the first and only comprehensive guide to the world of pirate language. A complete course in pirate vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and syntax. This is the authoritative work on the subject, containing every distinctive term, phrase, usage, and speech structure uttered by or attributed to pirates in film, television, literature, and historical accounts over the last three centuries."
Popular Pirate Slang-
- Ahoy! or Ahoy there! - The pirate's version of Aloha, it often means "Hello!" or "Hi!" but can sometimes be used for "Goodbye."
- Avast - "Avast Ye!" - From the Dutch term for 'hold fast' and means "Stop and pay attention."
- Belay - To belay can mean either to tie something down tight and secure as with a belaying pin or to stop or ignore, as in, "Belay that last command."
- Black Spot - Death threat among pirates made of a black spot or mark on a scrap of paper with more specific detail sometimes written on the other side, referred to in the story, Treasure Island.
- Dance the Hempen Jig - To hang. (The hanging rope was often made of hemp fibers.)
- Dungbie - The hiney or rear end.
- Go on Account - A tongue-in-cheek description pirates used that compared the act of becoming a pirate to going into business.
- Hornswaggle - To cheat or defraud, often of money or belongings, Yosemite Sam knows a lot about it.
- Jolly Roger - Believed to be from the French words for pretty red, the Jolly Roger is the pirate's fabric calling card, often including a skull and crossbones. The Jolly Roger flag announces to your target that you are pirates, and that surrender is a good idea.
- Parley - A parley is a conversation between opposing sides to discuss a halt to the fighting or related matters.
- Shiver me timbers! - Akin to "Blow me down!", an expression of shock or disbelief, believed to come from the sound the ship made when 'shocked' by running aground or hit by a cannon blast.
Pirate Lingo for Ship Parts and Articles-
- Abaft - From the old English for 'on or to the aft', toward the back end or stern of the boat.
- Athwartships - At a right angle to the midline or centerline of the boat- an imaginary line drawn from bow to stern that equally divides the ship.
- Binnacle - From the Latin word for 'dwelling place', a box or case which houses the compass upon the deck.
- Coaming - A vertical rim surrounding hatch openings and such to keep any water on deck from entering below it, excellent for tripping on.
- Duffle - Everything a sailor owns, also the nickname for the bag which holds the everything.
- Fo'c's'le - An abbreviation for forecastle, the forwardmost part of the ship.
- Futtock Shrouds - Pieces joining the rigging of lower and top masts.
- Head - A marine toilet, which could be no more than a hole cut in the decking at the head or bow of the ship that would allow waste to go into the sea, the waves hopefully washing away what may have not hit the water (also called a jardin). *NOT the same as the poop deck!
- Holystone - Bars of sandstone would be used to scrub the decks, the softer areas of the stone would wear away and leave holes. Also, the sailors were said to look like they were praying as they knelt to scrub.
- Jacob's Ladder - The rope ladder used to climb aboard the ship.
- Mizzen - The third mast from the bow on a vessel having three or more masts, or the mast immediately aft of the main-mast.
- Monkey - A small cannon...
- Monkey Jacket - A short waist jacket worn by midshipmen.
- Orlop - The deck for stowing cables.
- Poop Deck - The deck that is the furthest and the highest back, usually above the Captain's quarters, NOT to be confused with the head!
- Rullock - The cutaway or notch on the side rail of the boat from which oars would pivot.
Pirate Talk for Crew, Names for Pirates-
- Boatswain - Often pronounced Bosun, this crew member was in charge of the deck, whether it be the crew, equipment, or activity on the deck.
- Cockswain - Originally the Captain's attendant who would row him to and from the ship, later came to mean the helmsman.
- "Drivelswigger" - One who reads about nautical terms too much.
- Freebooter - From the Dutch for 'free' and 'plunder', reference to a pirate.
- Jack Tar - Early sailor's tarpaulin clothing was infused with tar, which some say also deflected sword blows in addition to shedding water, similar to Joe Blow or John Q. Public.
- Landlubber - 'Lubber' was an old English word for a big, slow, clumsy person, and this term was aimed at those on board who were not very skilled or at ease with ship life, as if to say, "You were no better on the land."
- Marooner - Besides a reference to the poor soul marooned on an island, it also can refer to a pirate who found his current line of work after deserting a military position or perhaps a state of slavery.
- Picaroon - From the Spanish word for rascal, it was applied to a form of verse about pirates that was satirical or humorous.
- Powder Monkey - A gunner's assistant..
Pirate Talk for Crew Activity-
- Swing the Lead - A lead weight swung from a line into water when near shore was a way to measure depth. The job's simple requirements caused the phrase to evolve into a term for slacking off.
- Take a Caulk - The deck's gaps were sealed with oakum and tar, and napping on them would leave black lines on the clothes. Someone going to nap on deck could say they were going to "take a caulk."
Pirate Slang for Drink-
- Arrack - A strong drink made with fermented fruit or palm sap, rice, or molasses.
- Black Jack - Large drinking cups made of leather made stiffer with an application of tar.
- Bumboo - A West Indies drink made with watered rum and flavored with sugar and nutmeg.
- Grog - The nickname of a British admiral was applied to a mix of water and rum, the rum was a cheap antiseptic and flavor mask for the spoiled water that sailors often encountered while at sea.
- Hogshead- A large barrel or cask holding 63 to 140 gallons, usually referring to alcohol.
- Rumfustian - Raw eggs mixed with beer and liquor...NOT the breakfast of pirate champions.
Pirate Talk For Food-
- Cackle Fruit - Chicken eggs
- Doughboy - Simple dumplings made of flour and animal fat.
- Hardtack - Extremely hard crackers made of flour, water, and salt. Hardtack would keep for years if dry, but ships never are, so they often grew maggots or other worms. Also called: hardbread, ship's biscuit, tooth dullers, molar breakers, sheet iron crackers, and worm castles.
- Junk - Salted beef or pork, not freshly cooked and prepared meat. The salt was intended to preserve it inside a barrel. It got really hard. (see hardtack)
- Leather - It's true. The food of last resort was not even food, but animal hide.
- Salmagundi - A popular dish of chopped meat ( beef, fish, chicken, pig, turtle, etc.), eggs, anchovies, onions, grapes, cabbage or herring, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, oil, vinegar.
Pirate Slang for Death-
- Davy Jones's Locker - the imaginary place at the ocean bottom that holds dead sailors and pirates...a reference to death. Davy Jones was said to be an evil spirit lurking at sea, waiting to escort dead sailors or pirates to his place or locker at the bottom of the waters. He went on to have a successful music career with the Monkees many years later.
- To be in Davy's Grip: To be close to death, or frightened.
- To have the Davies or the Joneseys: To be frightened.
- To see you to Davy Jones: To threaten to kill some one.