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A Pirate's Vocabulary


Ye want to talk like a freebooter or ye want to be espousing like a tried and true Buccaneer? Here be some jargon ye might want to be tryin' out. If ye know of a word this list be missin', please send in on our way.

Piratey Expressions

Here be some phrases that ye need know if ye want to not be mistaken for no landlubber!

Ahoy Used to hail a ship or a person or to attract attention.

Arr! / Argh / Arrgh! / Yarr! / Harr! etc. A general piratical term - can be used with anything.

Avast! Used as a command to stop or desist.

Belay Used in the imperative as an order to stop.Belay there!

Blimey! Used to express frustration.

Bucko A friend.

Dead men tell no tales Phrase explaining why pirates leave no survivors.

Gangway! Used to clear a passage through a crowded area.

Hang the jib To look ill-tempered or annoyed. To pout.

He's gone to Davy Jones's locker He is dead. (Davy Jones's locker is also the bottom of the sea)

Me hearties My Comrade; boon companion; good fellow; a term of familiar address and fellowship among sailors. Captains often refer to their entire crew this way.

Shiver me timbers! An expression of surprise.

Sink me! An expression of surprise.

Smartly Quickly.

Splice the Mainbrace! To have a Drink, or perhaps several.

Yo-ho-ho Completely meaningless, but fun to say.

Important Piratey Words

Here are some simple words every tried and true Pirate of the High Seas should know:

Aye Yes. Aye, aye captain!

Me My. Me ship is the biggest brig in the port!

Ye You Ye be walking the plank!

Aft Short for "after." Toward the rear of the ship.

Bilge That part of a ship's hull or bottom which is broadest and most nearly flat, and on which she would rest if aground. Also - Stupid talk or writing; nonsense.

Bilge Pump A pump to draw the bilge water from the gold of a ship.

Bilge Water Water which collects in the bilge or bottom of a ship or other vessel. It is often allowed to remain till it becomes very offensive.

Clap of Thunder A strong drink.

Fore Short for "forward". Toward the front end of the ship.

Mast A tall vertical spar, sometimes sectioned, that rises from the keel or deck of a sailing vessel to support the sails and the standing and running rigging.

Mizzenmast The hindmost mast of a three-masted vessel.

Poop deck The deck forming the roof of a poop or poop cabin, built on the upper deck and extending from the mizzenmast aft.

Port A seaport or the left side of the ship when you are facing toward her prow.

Prow The "nose" of the ship.

Rigging The arrangement of masts, spars, and sails on a sailing vessel.

Spars A wooden or metal pole used to support sails and rigging.

Starboard The right side of the ship when you are facing toward her prow.

People Words

Are ye a landlubber or a corsair? Read on if ye don't know.

Buccaneer A robber upon the sea; a pirate;a term applied especially to the piratical adventurers who made depredations on the Spaniards in America in the 17th and 18th centuries (Caribbean Pirates).

Corsair A pirate; one who cruises about without authorization from any government, to seize booty on sea or land (Mediterranean Pirates).

Deadlights Yer eyes, lad!

Hand One who is part of a group or crew.

Jack A flag or a sailor; showing how sailors would refer to thier ship's colors as one of the crew

Jack o' Coins The paymaster or Quartermaster.

Jack o' Cups The First Mate.

Jack o' Staves The First Lieutenant.

Jack o' Swords The Bosun.

Jack Ketch A public executioner or hangman. To Dance with Jack Ketch is to hang.

Jack Tar A popular colloquial name for a sailor (also called Jack Afloat).

Lad A young man.

Landlubber or lubber A person who lives and works on land or an inexperienced sailor; a sailor on the first voyage.

Lass A girl or young woman.

Matey Sociable; friendly. A way to address another pirate you are familiar with.

Messdeck lawyer A know-it-all.

On the Account Living the life of a pirate. If you are Going On The Account, you are becoming a pirate.

Privateers A ship privately owned and crewed but authorized by a government during wartime to attack and capture enemy vessels.

Scallywag A deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.

Scurvy Vile; mean; low; vulgar; contemptible. Ye Scurvy Dogs!

Sprogs Raw, untrained recruits or children.

Squiffy A buffoon.

Sutler A supplier.

Swab A sailor, often a lout.

Object Words

Ye know what thar things be? Piratey objects!

Booty Goods or property seized by force or piracy.

Cat O'Nine Tails An instrument of punishment consisting of nine pieces of knotted line or cord fastened to a handle used to flog offenders on the bare back.

Chantey, Shantey, Shanty A song sung by sailors to the rhythm of their movements while working.

Cutlass A short heavy sword with a curved single-edged blade, once used as a weapon by sailors.

Deadlights Eyes.

Doubloons A gold coin formerly used in Spain and Spanish America. In Puzzle Pirates, a currency purchased with real money.

Grog An alcoholic liquor, especially rum diluted with water.

Hempen Halter The hangman's noose.

Jolly Roger A black flag bearing a white skull and crossbones; indicates a pirate ship.

Letter of Marque A license to a private citizen to seize property of another nation.

Pieces of Eight An old Spanish silver coin. In Puzzle Pirates, they are gold.

Rope's end A piece of rope; especially, one used as a lash in inflicting punishment.

Six Pounders Cannons.

The Hulks Old or dismasted ships, formerly used as prisons.

Action Words

Know what we pirates are doing? Read on and ye will!

Black Spotted Similar to being black balled, it marks a pirate for death.

Careen To lean (a ship) on one side for cleaning, caulking, or repairing.

Chain Shot Two cannon balls united by a shot chain, formerly used in naval warfare on account of their destructive effect on a ship's rigging.

Chase To engage in pursuit of quarry or the ship being pursued.

Heave To To turn a sailing ship so that its bow heads into the wind and the ship lies motionless except for drifting, in order to meet a storm.

Hornswaggle To cheat.

Keelhaul To haul under the keel of a ship, by ropes attached to the yardarms on each side, used as a punishment.

Marooned To put ashore on a deserted island or coast and intentionally abandon.

Overhaul To gain upon in a chase; to overtake.

Scuttle To cut or open a hole or holes in a ship's hull or to sink a ship by this means.

Titivate To clean up or make shipshape.

"To Be Three Sheets in the Wind" Casting out all three sails, causing the ship to shudder and stagger like a drunken sailor.

Walk the plank To be forced, as by pirates, to walk off a plank extended over the side of a ship so as to drown.

Weigh anchor Heave up an anchor in preparation for sailing (can be used for to leave port).

With a thousand thanks to Staci "Rosethorn" Krause for compiling these Piratey words, a task that Captain Cleaver had long delayed, distracted as he usually is by rum, booty and the glint of a lady's eye.

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