#NPS101: Did You Know The Origins of These 6 Commonly Used Sailor Phrases?

April 17, 2017 Posted by: Travis Mackin
National Park Week is America's largest celebration of national heritage. This year’s theme, “Parks 101,” plays off the 101st anniversary of the National Park Service and the idea of 101-type introductory classes. Join San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park this week as we share maritime and Parks 101 related anecdotes and stories through our digital platforms.

6 Commonly Used Sailor Phrases & The Origins

By Travis Mackin
San Francisco Maritime National Park Association

1) A1 originates from the late 17th century when insurance firms would rate the hull and gear of a merchant ship as being the highest quality.

2) Touch and go originates from when ships would make short stays in a port while traveling to their destination.
touch and go

3) Know the ropes comes from learning the names and uses of the hundreds of lines a sailor would have to be familiar with to be considered an old salt.

4) Walk the chalk originates from when sailors would have to walk a line of chalk on the deck of a ship to prove their sobriety.
walk the chalk

5) Under the weather comes from when crashing waves and bad weather would hit under the bow of a ship.
under the weather
6) Fits the bill refers to when a ship’s cargo matched the bill of landing, or list of goods supposed to be on the ship upon delivery.
fits the bill

Last updated: April 17, 2017

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