Copy of `The Pirate's Hold - Piratical terms`

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The Pirate's Hold - Piratical terms
Category: History and Culture > Pirates
Date & country: 23/08/2013, US
Words: 42


Ahoy
call to attract attention, something akin to 'Hello, there!'

Anchor
a heavy weight, often shaped with hooked ends, lowered into the water to keep a ship in one place.

Avast
nautical term meaning stop what you are doing, derived/corrupted from 'hold fast'.

Ballast
stones or other heavy items placed in a ship's bottom to help it maintain a stable upright position.

Becalmed
the state of a sailing ship when it cannot move because there is no wind.

Belay
to tie or secure a rope end.

Bilge
the lowest part of the ship, bilge water is the foul, brackish sea water that would collect from seepage in this area

Black Jack
a leather tankard, made stiff with a coating of tar, used by dockside pubs and taverns to serve wine and beer.

Bowsprit
a long spar that projected from the ship's prow.

Buccaneer
early entrepreneurs who dried the meat from wild cattle and hogs on the island of Hispa´┐Żola in the early 1600's to sell to ships returning to Europe (primarily Spain). A pirate or unscrupulous adventurer.

Capstan
a mechanism for raising and anchor, on larger ships this would often be a large ratcheted pulley with several spoke that a number of crewmen turned to wind the anchor cable up, raising the anchor a little at a time

Careen
cleaning a ship's hull of barnacles, seaweed and marine worms by beaching it and leaning it over to one side.

Corsair
maybe derived from the island name Corsica, pirate or pirate ship, esp. of Barbary (N. Africa in olden times), attacking ships of European countries; also, a French privateer, or Knights of Malta fighting the Barbary pirates. Other origins may be the Latin word corsus meaning plunder.

Cutlass
a short, curved, thick sword, the preferred weapon of many buccaneers, possibly a carry over weapon from the days of making boucan and probably more suited to the slashing melee amidst the rigging when boarding another ship than a long sword

Doubloon
gold coin minted by Spain or Spanish colonies, worth about seven weeks pay for an average sailor.

Flibustier or Filibuster
French term for pirates during the golden age (approximately the same time the term buccaneer came into wide usage)

Flogging
punishment in which a man was whipped on his naked back, often used enforce discipline and punish minor or major infractions by ordinary sailers

Freebooter
another term for a pirate, probably originating from a corruption of the Dutch vrijbuiters (plunderers), combining the words vrij meaning free and buit meaning loot

Gibbet
a wooden frame from which dead pirates were hung, often in a metal cage especially fitted for the pirate, as a warning to any others who would think of taking up a career of piracy

Gunport
a hole, sometimes with an opening shutter, for a cannon to fire through

Handing a sail
rolling a sail up, analogous to shortening a sail

Helm
tiller or wheel used to steer ship

Helmsman
the person who steers the ship

Hold
the cargo area of a ship below the main deck

Jolly Roger
the pirate flag with its skull and cross bones, see my flag page for more details

Letters of Marque
proof that a pirate/privateer is sponsored by a particular government.

Masthead
the top of a mast

Picaroon
term meaning both pirate and slaver.

Piece of Eight
Spanish silver coin, or old Spanish peso, often cut into pieces to make change.

Pirate
derived from the Greek pirate, meaning one who plunders on the sea.

Ponton
an English prison hulk, or converted ship hull, where captured pirates were held.

Privateer
a pirate working for a particular government (often provided with letters of marque to prove this), restricting prey to that of another unfriendly government.

Prize
a captured ship

Quarterdeck
highest deck at the rear of the ship, ship's officers would often stand on the quarterdeck to oversee the ship's operation

Scurvy
a disease resulting from a vitamin C deficiency, characterized by weakness, anemia and spongy gums, although in the sense of 'scurvy dog' it meant low or mean (not angry, but low in quality)

Sea rover
pirate; pirate's ship

Seams
the line where the ship's planks joined, if not sealed properly the ship would leak

Setting a sail
letting the sail down, the opposite of handing

Shorten sail
to reduce the amount of sail hanging from the yards

Sprung seam
a seam that is no longer sealed and is leaking

Tiller
a pole attached to the rudder of a ship, used for steering the ship

Topman
sailor in charge of the topsails