pirate sayings

pirate sayings

To the Bitter End

A mid-19th century nautical term for the end of a rope or chain, at the point where it is attached. In vessels with no windlass, cables are secured to “Bitts “(pairs of bollards fixed to the deck)

The expression “to the bitter end “comes from when the rope is let out all the way to the “Bitts “

Clear the Decks

Preparing for battles – anything in the way of the cannons / guns was lashed down or stowed away. Clearing the decks for action.

Over a Barrel

Someone being punished – bent or stretched beaten or lashed


Rub Salt into Wounds

Flogged (whipped sailors had salt rubbed into there wounds to make them more painful)

 Getting down to the Nitty Gritty

This refers to visiting the deck of a slaving ship where “Nitty Gritty “was absorbent material, wood shavings sand sawdust etc mopped up the excrement – nice!


Sail Close to the Wind

To take chances or risks


Walk the plank

Blind folded and with hands tied behind back walking the plank and been left as shark food



Miscreant pirates were taken to small islands awaiting their fate. With no supplies, sometimes with a pistol to take their own life


Letters of Marque

License or commission (permission) to operate armed vessel to attack enemy shipping. Issued by the sovereign or its representative.