Did you ever wonder…?

Not all of you will have heard these terms. But, in my early years, I heard my father use most of them.

Why the toilet is sometimes called a “head”?

The front of the bow was used as the toilet for working sailors. They referred to it as the head.

Why are office rumors sometimes referred to as the “Scuttlebutt”?

Whalers would gather around the water barrel, called the scuttlebutt, and pass the time.

 Why is a hard time sometimes called “trying”?

Whalers boiled oil from blubber on the tryworks. This trying process was loathsome and laborious.

Why do some people refer to discarding something as “deep sixing” it?

Water is measured in fathoms. A fathom is 6 feet. When they threw something overboard, it was deep sixed.

Why do some people yell “shake a leg” to motivate someone to move faster?

When sailors brought women with them on a ship, the Boson would call out “shake a leg” when rousing sailors from their sleep. By the leg, he could tell if it was a sailor that needed to be rolled out.

Where does the term “son of a gun” come from?

On military ships, when women were on board, they sometimes gave birth. This occurred on the gun deck. The father was seldom known. Therefore, calling someone a “son of a gun” was calling him a bastard.

When someone is not making sense, why are they sometimes said to have “three sheets to the wind”?

A sheet is a rope that holds taught the bottom of a sail. If the rope is loose in the wind, the ship is out of control.

Why would someone dressed poorly be called a “clod hopper”?

The term comes from farming.