Old Naval Words and Sayings


Ah, Frank Trickey. In the Goonery world a name that will live forever. My first meeting with the man, was as a baby sailor, at Whale Island in 1957. Frank took "Battalion" drill, stood on top of an air raid shelter, wearing a respirator. Many years later he was driving the TRV Wakeful, when he was invited to a wardoom piss up on the Eskimo. I was PO of the day when he came onboard. As a "Commanding Officer" the side was manned, calls at the ready, when he said "No ceremonial PO, I'm only a gunner!" I last met him when I was CGI of Vernon and I was with my affiliated Sea Cadet unit, TS Vernon in Birmingham. Frank was RN Liasion officer and did our Admiralty inspection. He had inspected the front row of the guard when he saw me stood to one side. He nodded in recognition and as he completed his inspection he told the skipper of the unit "This will cost your Chief GI a few wets!" Needless to say it did!! But we swung a few lamps in the process.

Frank's funeral bought together a lot of the "Old and Bold" who had not seen each other for yonks. More than one glass was raised in his memory.

Semper Strenuissima.


One of my favourite sayings is said when, how shall I put this politely.....Wrens with huge arses & tight trolleys are in the vicinity.
Harry Wagg, ex PO SEA had me in stitches when were instructors at Horsea Fire School. A quite large PO Wren Jack Dusty had just squeezed into a XXXL Fearnought Suit & Harry came out with the classic;

"I haven't seen that much taut canvas since the Victory did full power trials!"

Happy Days.
Schiller said:
How about "putting something through the hoop"? Derives from the 18" metal hoop a properly lashed hammock should be able to pass through.

"Chokka" from "chock-a-block".

"The devil to pay". The devil was the outboard seam of the deck planking, next to the ship's side. To "pay" a seam was to fill it with caulking and pitch. The full phrase is "The devil to pay and no pitch hot".

Incidentally, sorry to disappoint some of you, but the derivation of "Brass monkey" is rubbish. I've never found any reference to a "monkey", brass or otherwise - I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has. Besides that, the amount of contraction of a brass holder (co-efficient of expansion 0.00019) would be so tiny, even with, say, a 30 degree fall of temperature, as to make little difference to the stability of the balls. Add to that the fact that , while brass can be machined to fairly fine accuracies, cannon balls were much more crudely produced, and varied considerably in diameter and sphericity. To build a pyramid of them sufficiently precarious to tumble off with a fall of temperature would seem to be a fairly fruitless exercise.

Also the origin of "Between the devil and the deep blue sea"



Some of my wingers and I were discussing the origin of the term "shad" the other day, and I thought maybe some RN types might be able to shed some light. In the Canadian Navy, it has been used for many, many years as a synonym for naval reserve, usually by the regular Navy pejoratively. It has been theorized that it started as a shortening of the word shadow, but no one really seems to know. Has it ever been used in the RN to anyone's recollection?
Here on the Western Shore of the Pond, we are not above stealing terms and traditions from the RN.

Origins of Naval Terminology,

My favorite is not on the list..

(F)Phart Sack..

When the USN converted from hammocks to racks each sailor/Marine was issued a pillow with case, wool blanket and a mattress cover.. the mattress cover was a large heavy cotton pillow case that the mattress was placed in.. it was used for four weeks.. side one/week one, flip for side two on week two, turn inside out for week three & flip for four.. then air bedding & wash the Phart sack..

Thease were the daze of coal and no air conditioning..


Lantern Swinger
geoffrey said:
Deckhead_Inspector said:
My favorite old naval word is the old name of the "Cut Splice" before the "n" was removed from between the "u" and the "t". If you don't believe get hold of an old copy of BR 67 (pre 1968 I think.)

My 1937 version, disappointingly, lacks the "n"!


I see there's a book on Amazon with all this sort of thing in, as well.

Ok so the date is wrong but if you look at the illustration I think you get the idea.

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