Tag Archives: nautical
maelstrom

maelstrom

  The Maelstrom on a clear day (The islands of Mosken and Værøy can be seen in the distance.) photograph: Lofoten Islands       This English noun originated in the early-modern Dutch maelstrom (now maalstroom). It was originally a proper name designating a strong and dangerous current flowing between two of the Lofoten islands […]

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manifesto

manifesto

  cover of Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (first edition of February 1848, London)       The archaic Latin verb fendere meant to strike, and its past participle festus, struck. They only survived in compounds such as: – defendere (the prefix de- meaning off): primary sense: to ward off attack, […]

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torpedo

torpedo

  1912 Fiat Type 3 torpedo     The original meaning of torpedo is a flat fish of the genus Torpedo or family Torpedinidæ, having an almost circular body with tapering tail, and characterised by the faculty of emitting electric discharges. It is also called electric ray, cramp-ray, cramp-fish and numbfish. The word is from Latin […]

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Scouse

Scouse

  Albert Dock, Liverpool     MEANING   A Scouse, or Scouser, is a person from Liverpool, Lancashire, and Scouse is the dialect or accent of people from Liverpool. Liverpool is a city and seaport in North-West England, situated at the east side of the mouth of the River Mersey. Liverpool developed as a port […]

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navvy

navvy

  Halsall Navvy The Leeds and Liverpool Canal Act of 1770 authorised the construction of the first major canal in Great Britain. The route of this canal passed immediately adjacent to Halsall, and the first sod was ceremonially dug here on 5th November 1770. In 2006, a stone statue of the Halsall Navvy by the […]

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Buggins’ turn

     Buggins’ turn, or Buggins’s turn, is the principle of assigning an appointment to persons in rotation rather than according to merit. The earliest recorded use of this expression is in a letter written on 13th January 1901 by the British admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841-1920): Favouritism was the secret of our efficiency in […]

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Mediterranean

Mediterranean

      The Mediterranean (Sea) is the almost landlocked sea separating southern Europe from Africa, connected with the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar, with the Black Sea by the Bosporus, and (since 1869) with the Red Sea by the Suez Canal.   The adjective and noun Mediterranean is from the classical Latin […]

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settee

settee

  A settee is a long upholstered seat for more than one person, typically with a back and arms.   The word is first recorded in 1716; a London shop sign was: Joseph Fletcher, leather gilder to His Majesty, selleth and maketh all sorts of Hangings for Rooms and Stair-cases, chairs, settees and screens.   […]

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lubber

lubber

    Nowadays, lubber is short for landlubber, which designates a person unfamiliar with the sea or sailing. But the original meaning of lubber was a big, clumsy, stupid fellow, especially one who lives in idleness. According to an unconvincing etymology, this noun is from Old French lobeur, the agent of the verb lober, meaning […]

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petrel

petrel

  The word petrel is a variant of the earlier pitteral, and has been associated by folk etymology with Saint Peter, because the bird appears to walk on water.   It is only in the gospel of Matthew, 14, that Peter is said to have walked on the Sea of Galilee (or Lake of Gennesaret): […]

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