Turns out you may have been using maritime slang more often than you thought. Language has a funny way of evolving over time, and before we know it, centuries pass along and new ideas become common tongue. So check out these phrases and words below and see if you have a sailors mouth!

Tide Over

Meaning to make a small amount last until a larger amount is available. Millennials are too painfully familiar with this term after rent, but it once had origins directly related to seafaring. When there was an absence of wind, sailors would use to float with the tide until it returned.

Taken Aback

To be startled or surprised came to coin with this phrase when the wind would blow sails flat against their structures. We can only guess people felt an emotional relation to the reaction of the sail from the wind.

Feeling Blue

The color blue is actually a considered one of the most calming ones, but it wasn’t associated with sadness until the tradition of flying blue flags when a captain or officer died at sea.

Pipe Down

This translation to demand quiet has a correlation with how sailors communicated. Ship crews could receive signals through the ship’s pipes, including the signal to “pipe down the hammocks” readying sailors for sleep.

Take the Con

My first thought that comes to mind is Star Trek, but like most things Trekkie there is a real world connection behind the phrase or the idea, including taking the con. It was originally used in older sailing days before it entered the streets of the common people.

Toe the Line

The method of the British Royal Navy inspecting their crew barefoot, the toe meeting with the plank of the deck, became a phrase known for conforming to order for policies within future groups to this day.

The Cut of His Jib

A person’s appearance and first impression is associated with this phrase, similarly how one can get an impression of a ship their jib sail. The jib is the sail is in front, rounded out by the wind, and often can tell a person where that ship is from and what it represents.

Long Shot

Meaning an occurrence that takes a great deal of luck. Back in the day, gunfire and canons tended to be inaccurate which is why navel battles where fought up close. If a long shot actually made an impact it was considered out of the ordinary.

While there are many other phrases, you may have learned where a common phrase comes from today, or maybe you’ll start using them more. Sailor talk can actually be fun (and safe around your grandma, not to be confused with sailor swear)

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