Posted by: Jacqui Murray | February 28, 2011

4 Navy Words You May Not Know

This is from the newsletter of USS Plymouth Rock LSD 29:

BOATSWAIN’S PIPE – No self-respecting boatswain’s mate would dare admit he couldn’t blow his pipe in a manner above reproach. This pipe, which is the emblem of the boatswain and his mates, has an ancient and interesting history. On the ancient row-galleys, the boatswain used his pipe to call the stroke. Later because its shrill tune could be heard above most of the activity on board, it was used to signal various happenings such as knock-off and the boarding of officials. So essential was this signaling device to the well-being of the ship, that it became a badge of office and honor in the British and American Navy of the sailing ships.

CLOTHES STOPS – A small diameter cord, approximately 12 inches, used to tie laundry to a clothes line — the early Navy clothes pin. Issued in recruit training until 1973

SCUTTLEBUTT – Navy term for rumor. Comes from a combination of the word “scuttle” to make a hole in the ship’s side, causing her to sink, and “butt”, a cask used to hold drinking water. Scuttlebutt literally means a cask with a hole in it. Scuttle describes what most rumors accomplish if not to the ship, at least to morale. Butt describes the water cask where men naturally congregated, and that’s where most rumors get started.

bitt

BITTER END – As any able-bodied seaman can tell you, a turn of a line around a bitt, those wooden or iron posts sticking through a ship’s deck, is called a bitter. Thus the last of the line secured to the bitts is known as the bitter end. Nautical usage has somewhat expanded the original definition in that today the end of any line, secured to bitts or not, is called a bitter end. The landlubbing phrases “stick to the bitter end” and “faithful to the bitter end” are derivations of the nautical term and refer to anyone who insists on adhering to a course of action without regard to consequences.



Jacqui Murray is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, an Editorial Review Board member for SIGCT, an IMS tech expert, a weekly contributor to Write Anything and mother of a Naval Officer and an Army grunt. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Responses

  1. […] you know where the term ‘bitter end‘ came […]


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