Do you enjoy learning boat vocabulary primarily used in everyday life? If so, you’ve sailed to the right destination! We’ve put together the top eight boating terms and idioms for you so that you can use them on your boating trips and routine life in the proper contexts.
8 Boating Terms and Idioms to Know About
1- Goin Overboard
The phrase “going overboard” originally means falling out of a boat in the nautical sense. However, in everyday language, this might refer to a person who does way too much or someone who is being unnecessarily extravagant.
2- Loose Cannon
“Loose cannon” is a common phrase used for a person known for causing unpredictable damage every time they’re around or someone acting out of control. This is a metaphorical statement inspired by a situation when a cannon breaks loose from the deck of a sailboat in rough weather or water conditions. That’s because when that’s the case, the heavy weapon rolling around could prove to be extremely dangerous and even unpredictable.
3- High and Dry
When you accidentally beach your boat, running it to the ground, it means you’re “high and dry” in boating terms. Contrarily, we use this idiom to describe being stuck in an undesired situation when on land.
4- Give Leeway
“Give leeway” means being lenient or patient in a given situation. However, boaters initially used the term when they needed to give extra room to another boat that was being forcefully blown into a downwind (lee), so they had enough space to maneuver or avoid a potentially harmful situation.
5- Under the Weather
Feeling “under the weather” means feeling sick in daily life. However, this phrase was used by sailors initially when they had to go below the boat’s deck to keep away from the storm. Therefore, they went “under the weather” where it was nice and dry, contrary to the outside’s situation.
6- Three Sheets to the Wind
In boating terms, if the lines lose hold of all your three sails (or sheets), you wouldn’t be able to steer your watercraft from that point on. That’s why we use the expression “three sheets to the wind” to indicate when something (or someone) is beyond its own control.
While you might think of Netflix binge-watching as soon as you hear the word “binge,” this phrase used to mean something else in nautical terms. When someone had a vessel made of wood, “to binge” would mean thoroughly soaking the watercraft so that it could absorb the water. It was formerly spelled as “benge,” which literally means “to soak.”
8- Square Meals
Lastly, while a “square meal” now refers to a sufficient and satisfying nosh, the phrase is derived from how meals were literally served in square platters to crew members on ships.
We hope you enjoyed learning about these boating terms and idioms as much as we loved putting them together for you!