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Talk Like a Pirate

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Pirate Flag

The term pirate is often associated with something negative. A pirate is someone who attacks and robs ships at sea. Pirating is also associated with someone who reproduces another person's work without permission. So what is the attraction?


Today, we still have a unique fascination, even glorification of a pirate. Movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Treasure Island,” “Peter Pan,” and “Hook” are legendary and fondly etched into pirating lore.


Maybe it is because of the distinctive clothes, the memorable characters, or just the way pirates talk that enamors us with the idea of being a pirate.


Did you know, there is an “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” celebrated every September 19th? It is true. The ‘Fellas’ love being in, on, or near the water. Therefore we put together a short list of words and phrases associated with pirates, so you can converse on "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

Pirate 2


Ahoy! – A term used to attract attention. Used for the sighting of a ship, but also is a friendly greeting like “hello there.”

Ahoy, Me Hearties – Similar to 'Ahoy', but is used to say hello to a group of friends.

Arrg – A cry of disgust or recognition. If really disgusted it is Arrrrrrrrg!!!

Avast Ye – Pay attention. Or stop what you are doing and check something out.

Blimey! – An expression of shock, surprise, or disbelief.

Cut and Run – Refers to cutting the anchor rope with an axe instead of bringing the anchor up by hand. This technique saves time when the ship and its crew face a potentially dangerous situation, and needs to make a quick escape.

Davey Jones’ Locker – A mythical place at the bottom of the sea, where the souls of dead seamen are collected by the evil spirit known as Davey Jones.

Deep Six – A term still used today that refers to throwing something away. But in pirate terminology, it refers to water deeper than six fathoms (36 feet), the minimum depth for a burial at sea.

Down the Hatch – Originally, this phrase was used when putting cargo through the deck hatch into the cargo hold. More commonly used today as a toast or to drink something quickly.

Feed the Fish – Someone killed at sea, then thrown overboard for...well a fish's dinner..

Keel Haul – A harsh punishment where the victim is dragged underneath the ship from side to side or from front to back.

Landlubber – Someone who is not used to life at sea. A person who others feel is clumsy or stupid.

Mate - A fellow crew member.

Old Salt – An old pirate or sailor. An Old Salt can also be referred to as a ‘seadog.’

Old Salt

Poop Deck – No, not the bathroom! The part of the ship furthest to the back, often found above the captain's quarters.

Raise the Jolly Roger – The Jolly Roger is a black flag with a skull and crossbones. Raising the Jolly Roger warns other ships to surrender or face the consequences, often violent consequences!!!

Run a Shot Across the Bow – This is a warning shot fired over an enemy ship.

Scurvy Dog – An insult directed toward another sailor.

Scuttle – Term used when pirates want to sink a ship.

Talk Bilge – Bilge is filthy water found in the bottom of a ship. 'Talking bilge' means to talk gibberish.

'Thar She Blows – Shouted out loudly when there is a whale sighting.

Weigh Anchor and Hoist the Mizzen – A command to pull up the anchor and set sail. (The term mizzen refers to the third mast from the bow on a ship that has three or more masts. )

Where Away? – A question meaning “in which direction?”. Used in response to the lookout in the crow's nest who has spotted something, like another ship or land.

Pirate Ship


There are plenty of other pirate terms. Some, like “Yo-Ho-Ho” and “Shiver Me Timbers” are fictional. These and a few others originated in "Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson. No matter, on "Talk Like a Pirate Day" any pirate chatter is welcomed, fictional or not. And if you are a "Scallywag" and cannot speak pirate, well "blow me down," you just might have to "walk the plank."

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