10 Nautical Terms in Everyday English

Discover how nautical terms navigate into everyday language, linking modern expressions to ancient maritime traditions.

By: TexTribe

Above Board

Everything open and honest, originally referring to concealing nothing below a ship's deck.

By and Large

Refers to sailing close to the wind and mostly, now means 'in general.'

Cut and Run

To quickly leave, from the practice of cutting anchor ropes in urgent escape.

High and Dry

Stranded, originally describing a ship stuck at high tide.


The margin or flexibility, taken from the sideways drift of a ship.

Slush Fund

Money for small expenses, from the sale of a ship’s slush (greasy waste).

Son of a Gun

An unexpected surprise, originating from babies born aboard near ship's guns.

Taken Aback

Surprised, from a ship's sails suddenly pressed backwards.

Three Sheets to the Wind

To be unsteady or drunk, referencing a ship's uncontrolled sails.

Under the Weather

Feeling ill, from sailors getting sick under bad weather on the leeward side.

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