Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nautical Idioms

During the winter months there seems to be more time for reading and reflection. Thinking about where the words “Shipyard Log” came from, I started digging into expressions or idioms that came from nautical roots.

In the early days of sailing ships, the ship's records were written on shingles cut from logs. These shingles were hinged and opened like a book. The record was called the log book. Later on, when paper was readily available and bound into books, the record maintained it’s name.

Today to show your true colors is to reveal your true character or intentions. Pirate ships would approach their intended victim showing a false flag to lure them into a false sense of security. When it was too late for the victim to escape they would then show their true colors or flag.

Food and drinks are always a topic of interest. One common expression is: Down the Hatch. This is a drinking expression, but has its origins in loading cargo onto boats as you might expect. As the cargo is put into the hold, it travels down the hatch, and appears to be consumed by the ship.

In today’s economy we are ever mindful of our finances. We may have money set aside to use for fun and entertainment expenses, which we call our slush fund. So where does this phrase slush fund come from? This nautical expression has been around since 1939. It refers to the waste fat or grease left over from meat boiled down on board the boat. Sailors boiled down and stored the fat remains of their salted beef rations; this was then sold to soap and candle makers. The money received from the sale of the slush' was used for the crew's comfort and entertainment.

So, use some of your slush fund to celebrate the new year and keep warm with a drink down the hatch.

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