Yarr! Avast, me Hearties! Today is the 17th anniversary of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
It was in 1995 that John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy) of Albany, Oregon, proclaimed that each Sept. 19th is the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.
To help those who are not “fluent” in pirate speak, we have included some pirate phrases to get ye started.
Aaaarrrr! – This is often confused with “arrrrgh,” which is, of course, the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. “Arrrr!”, like “Aloha,” means variously, “yes,” “I agree,” “I’m happy,” “I’m enjoying this beer,” “My team is going to win it all,” “I saw that television show, it sucked!” and “That was a clever remark you or I just made.” And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!
Ahoy, Matey – Hello, my friend!
Ahoy, me Hearties! – the same as saying “Hello, my friends!”
Avast – derived from “hold fast”. Stop and give attention. This word, like many pirate words, has multiple meanings, so it can also can be used in place of, “Whoa! Get a load of that!” “Check it out” or “No way!” or “Get off!”Hey you, stop and check this out! or pay attention
Aye, aye – “I understand what you said and I will carry out your order!”
Batten down the hatches – put everything away on the ship and tie everything down because a storm is brewing
Bilge rat-The bilge is the lowest level of the ship. It’s loaded with ballast and slimy, reeking water. A bilge rat, then, is a rat that lives in the worst place on the ship. Pirates, just like their modern-day counterparts (regular guys), love to joke and jibe with their buddies. By all means, pirates will call their buddies “bilge rats.”
Booty – Anything of value a pirate can plunder.
Cat O’Nine Tails – a whip with nine strands
Crow’s nest – small platform atop the mast where the lookout stands
Cutlass – short heavy curved bladed sword used by pirates
Davy Jones’ Locker – fabled, mythical place at the bottom of the ocean where the evil spirit of Davy Jones brings sailor and pirates to die. Where the souls of drowned pirates go.
Dead men tell no tales – phrase indicating to leave no survivors
Doubloons – other coins or found in pirate hoards and stashes
Feed the fish – will soon die
Heave Ho – Put yer back into it! Give it some muscle and push.
Hempen Halter – a noose for hanging
Hornswaggle – to defraud or cheat out of money or belongings
Jacob’s Ladder – the rope ladder one uses to climb aboard a sloop
Jolly Roger – pirate’s flag including white skull and crossbones over a black field
Keelhaul – A grisly death indeed. The pirate is tied by a rope at the front of the ship at full sail. He is then kicked off and made to drag along the keel, or bottom spine of the ship, usually through the sharp barnacles clinging to the hull. It would act like a cheese grater. “Ye’ll be Keel Hauled!” would strike terror into any pirate.
Lubber – (or land lubber) Where a lubber is a poor seaman, a land lubber is an exceptionally ignorant seaman. In a room where everyone is talking like pirates, lubber is always an insult.
Letters of Marque – letters issue from governments during wartime to privateers endorsing the piracy of another vessel
Me – my, I, meself
Mizzen – third mast from the bow of the ship on ships that have three or more masts
Old Salt – an experienced sailor
Pieces of eight – coins or found in pirate stashes
Pillage – rob, sack or plunder
Poop deck – the part of the ship farthest to the back, which is usually above the captain’s quarters.
Run a shot across the bow – warning shot to another vessel’s captain
Saucy – Sexy. “Ye be a Saucy Wench!”
Savvy? – Ok or understand. As in, “Savvy?” meaning “Do you understand”
Scallywag – mild insult akin to rapscallion or rogue
Scurvy – Well, of course, it’s an awful affliction that used to bedevil buccaneers in days gone by; that’s one reason there was lime juice added to the rum in the water, making grog. So calling someone a “scurvy bilge rat” is even worse than calling him a “bilge rat.”
Scurvy dog – the pirate is talking directly to you with mild insult
Scuttle – to sink a ship
Seadog – old pirate or sailor
Shark bait – That fool hardy person who has been pissin’ off the Captain, and will soon be wandering in Davy Jones’ Locker
Shiver me timbers! – comparable to “Holy Crap!” Pirate for “Well, I’ll be” or “Is that so?”. Originating from when a cannon ball hits a ship and the planking shatters into splinters.
Show a Leg! – Phrase to wake up a sailor. “Show a leg!, it be dawn, you scurvy lubber!”.
Smartly – Do something quickly. “Smartly, me lass,” you might say when sending the bar maid off for another round. She will be so impressed she might well spit in your beer.
Thar she blows! – Whale sighting
Three sheets to the wind – someone who is very drunk. One sheet is mildly drunk and four sheets is passed out.
Walk the plank – punishment in which person walks off a board jutting over the side of the ship while at sea. The consequence is drowning and a visit to Davy Jones’ Locker.
Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! – pull up the anchor and the sail and let’s get going
Wench – Woman, girl, or waitress. It can also refer to a peasant girl.
Yardarm – Not just convenient framework to hang the sails, but often times used as a holding post for the disobedient ol’ salts, as in, “Tie that dawg to the yardarm”.
Ye – you
Yo Ho Ho – Whoo Hoo! A cheerful exhortation to demand attention