WORD LISTS

Words Every Pirate Should Know

August 26, 2017
International Talk Like A Pirate Day is celebrated on September 19. In the swashbuckling spirit, this list covers words every self-respecting pirate should know: parts of a ship, sailing jargon, terms for pirates, etc. With these words at your command, you can take the whole pirate thing way beyond "arrgh," eyepatches, and annoying birds that perch on your shoulder.

For more, check out the full article: Buccaneer, Bilge and Booty: Words Every Self-respecting Pirate Should Know
fathom
Fathom can be both a verb and a noun. The verb is the more common in everyday usage and means "to understand", to get one’s head around. The noun is the pirate definition though, and it is a measurement of depth, roughly equivalent to 6 feet. The connection between the two definitions is that if something is a fathom in depth it is "able to be measured," the way something that is fathomable is "able to be understood."
The film borrowed heavily from a recent American picture, “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,” but put a distinctly Japanese spin on the allegory.
buccaneer
Buccaneer is a word that is synonymous with pirate. Originally specific to pirates on the Spanish coast, it has expanded to encompass the whole group. The stability of buccaneer in our collective minds probably has a lot to do with the pirate ship in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' stadium that shoots off fake cannons every time the team scores a touchdown. Until a few years ago, their logo even included an image of a pirate with a blade in his teeth.
Buccaneers and pirate-wannabes of all ages abound, since pirate attire is encouraged and usually available from event vendors.
bilge
Used to describe foulness and garbage, the bilge is technically "the lowest internal part of a ship." The sense of the word has been extended, however to all the gross stuff that collects there from small leaks and dead animals and the like. The word is historically a variant of bulge which comes from old French boulge "leather sack."
The vessel was leaky, so the bilges were constantly filling with a mixture of oil and seawater.
careen
This verb originally applied to ships and is from a French word which literally translates as "to expose a ship's keel, which means that the ship was turned on its side, a very dangerous situation for those aboard.
Then a car roared past him, careening all over the road, in the opposite direction.
maroon
Estimates of losses were not available, with rescuers yet to reach villages marooned by the worst floods in recent years.
prow
The word for the front part of a ship, prow, is related to the word element pro which is found in English words like proceed, which literally means "to go on, to go before."
Instead of a knife she used a blade that curved like the prow of a Viking ship, sailing to battle in distant seas.
scurvy
This is a disease many pirates would contract because there was a lack of fresh fruit or other sources of Vitamin C. Scurvy involves swollen and bleeding gums and general weakness. From French scorbut.
Scurvy, an 18th century disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, appears to have made a surprise comeback in Australia.
pirate
Where does the word pirate itself come from? Latin pirata comes from Greek peirates . The Greek is literally “one who attacks,” from peiran “to attack, make a hostile attempt on.”
The group will wear pirate hats and shirts that say “ Pirates From De West,” and their float is designed to look like an abandoned ship.
keel
The keel is the lowest plank of wood on a boat. It is the foundational piece, and the ship depends on it for strength and stability. The phrase "keep an even keel" comes from maintaining a level, horizontal position on a ship, and has been metaphorically extended to mean keeping a calm demeanor and not going from one extreme emotion to another.
But the keel remained intact, and the boat eventually righted itself, though it was flooded.
ballast
The ballast water that stabilizes marine vessels is the greatest source of harmful bacteria and invasive species in aquatic ecosystems.
stern
The stern is where the steering gear of the ship is located, and the word derives from Old Norse styra, which meant "to guide." The more familiar adjective stern meaning "severe, strict or cruel" is unrelated to this term.
That stern of a Turkish gulet where 10 of us slept on cushions under the stars.
unfurl
The queen herself was seen summoning the winds, Unfurling her sails and frantically paying out the slackened ropes.
booty
He made me think of a pirate captain disposing of the booty.
hoist
Drenched pirates shouted and hoisted and scrambled, but there was nothing to be done.
pillage
“Beaten, bleeding, terrified, the men lay huddled together in the hold, while the pirates proceeded in their work of pillage and brutality.

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