Pirates of the Caribbean Slang in 1666

One of the most romantic images of all time — the Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirate argo or ‘Pirate slang’ short vocabulary here we’ve got:

SHIPSHAPE — is for anything in a proper shape and/or in a great order and worthy, also see the definitions for TRIM down below on this page. I hope this is a shipshape article for the blog. No tacking around. Aye-aye.

Jolly Roger Pirates Flag Flying
Jolly Roger, Pirate Flag

We’ve tried making this selection to pick the words which are usefull ashore, or in the modern language. Hope, the are universal.

SLACK WATER — the period between a tide and a tide, when the water goes nowhere: neither up nor down, basically it’s changing the direction, and it’s calm for short while.

BLACK JACK — this one is not the game originally, yet more likely giving the name to the game. Well, originally the Black Jack is the barrel of bear used in pubs (short from “public house”) and taverns of that time, as a barrel and also as a table. With the same use onboard of a boat. Why the Jack is Black? Barrels used to be sealed and coated externally with tar, so all those jacks were in fact black ones.

SAVVY — comes from “being smart” or simply “smart” from French, used widely over the pirate community, and it certainly gained another ton of popularity as being promoted in the Pirates of the Caribbean motion picture franchise.

EIGHT BELLS — is a shift. A bell is a sound called manually after the sand glass changed, and the sand glass was 30 min long. A boat making way measures time by sand glass and making bells. If you are on a shift then your 8th bell you hear shall mean the end of the shift, as those shifts are 4 hours long traditionally (till now when a one-hand boat makes it thu the ocean, skippers usually take 4 hour shift before taking a nap). So, eight bells practically means a rest… and a bottle of rum… Yo ho ho!

the T.G.I.F. is a sort of reflection of the EIGHT BELLS

BOAT — a wider term for anything that floats in general, used till today among sailing community for any floating thingy with a sail or any floating thingy classified for the purpose of pleasure. The contrary version is a “ship” which stands for a big boat, a part of navy or a part of larger fleet. A simple solution to pretend you are the mariner: use “boat” anywhere for anything except that you stress specifically she was a ship.

SCURVY DOG — a foul person, as a left handed compliment. It comes from SCURVY which was a term for a disease, identified nowadays as a lack of Vitamin C (softened gums, losing teeth, pain in limbs, breath issues, and overall weakness and tiredness)

ARR, or ARRGH — pure a Holywood (sources say)

AVAST — cease any operation immediately.

ANCIENT — this is how the colors was called once. Both “colors” and “ancient” mean the flag of a ship, ouch, sorry, of a boat.

JOLLY ROGER — is a simple one, it means a pirate flag, usually black one, sometimes white one, often carrying symbols of death, sometimes with a symbols of love (even if broken) and/or liberty; in any case this is the illegal flag (and they are still considered as such) marking the pirate ship. When you see a one, it’s already too late for you, mate. God bless all sailors.

MATE — a friend, a buddy, a dude, a crew member, same use alike Aussie use “mate” nowadays, yet it comes from mariner’s slang. First Mate is the Captain’s right hand officer. I’d wish to suggest there is an obvious logic why the word landed to Australia and stayed there in the language.

JERK — salted beef. Used widely along the whole history of the age of exploration as the best opportunity to carry beef and keep it well in any conditions for an endless term. Jerk is still offered as a food component everywhere in the Caribbean, you keep it in water before cooking for almost a day and it’s still a pretty salty piece, m-m and it is heavenly tasty when properly cooked.

BUCCAN — salted beef. Basically this is where the “Buccaneer” originally comes from, one of the common civil professions in Tortuga 1666 which was not very rich about professions at all, you can imagine.

BUCCANEER — a pirate. See also BUCCAN (above)

BUMBO — an alcoholic beverage: rum, sugar, water and nutmeg.

We will try and report here.

2 (oz) of Rum
the juice of half a lime (optional)
one or two teaspoons of cane sugar
Nutmeg is important!
and then fill the rest of your tin or a mug with water. Shake strongly or use a wooden stick to stir, it’s a pirate’s drink! and it’s a must for a pirate drink to be easy in making.

In case you have an oportunity to use a fire stove for making your Grog (or call it Bumbo if you wish):

Heat water, sugar, nutmeg, altogather on a slow fire for a better dissolution, to convert it into a syrop, and this’ll make your shot more tasty, mild and healthy rather than a cold quick version (above). This hot mixture (let it rest to become a few degrees below the boiling point at least) – pour it into rum, or vice versa add rum into the syrop, over here the sequence is less important, then stir and serve it half-hot. Squeezing a lime into a ready glass will not harm, hopefully you’ve got a good lime for it.

The other name for Bumbo was “Grog” (see below)

GROG — a mixture of water and rum, suggested by Admiral Vernon as a daily portion of alcohol for sailors in the British Navy (the nickname of that admiral within sailor’s community was Old Grog). Nutmeg used to be an often cargo of those times, and it is commercially cultivated in the Caribbean till nowadays like in Grenada, by that adding nutmeg is very important for the original taste of proper Grog (see BUMBO article above)

CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER is a CAT-O-NINE TALES, that ones used for punishment.

DEVIL’S JIG — to hang

CUT OF ONE’S JIB — one’s company, one’s surround, one’s business, one’s opinions, whatever personal for a person. Just be careful about your cut of the jib when using this slang.

Basically, JIB is a foresail(s) shipshaped in a form of a triangle, located between the foremast and the bowsprit. They make any boat beautiful. In modern classic sloop rigged yacht – JIB is the front sail. And when it covers an area bigger than the main (main sail on the single mast of a modern pleasure sloop) it’s then called “Genoa”.

TIMBERS — the framework of a boat

TRIM — well settled, well balanced, ready to use, in a great order. See BOATSHAPE

WEATHER EYE OPEN — or ‘keep one’s weather eye open’, it’s for to stay alerted, keep watching, being on watch, watch out.

WEIGH or ANCHORS AWEIGH — a situation when the movement starts: that is an anchor starts giving a weight, means that it is clean and untouches the sea floor where it was lying moments before. Consequently the boat starts the movement safely.

TYBURN — is a place of legend in England, where the executions of the “lower class” had happened, those were robin hoods of the highways, pirates, ladies disgraced by society (dear God please do never forgive those devils suppressing upon beautiful women)

TYBURN TREE, TYBURN SAINTS, TYBURN TICKET, TYBURN STRETCH — are all about that Tyburn square the scary place and the everyone’s nightmare in London 1666.

Hangman game with a pirate flag is here, opensource: Oxtail.org

TACK ABOUT — to waste time or beat it round the bush. The saying comes from “tack” a naval language term for changing the course of a ship, making the wind to approach from the other side and while the maneuver the bow of the boat points to the wind at some moment. Like when your goal is opposite to the direction of the wind you’re making way in a “Z” shape, you tack a lot.

Tue, 20/Apr/21