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October 24, 2017


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The Complete Halloween Pirate Guide
Costumes | Parties | Pirate Talk | Dictionary
Pirate Guide

Huh? What Did That Pirate Just Say?
Here's a Pirate Dictionary to Help Figure Things Out

Aft
To or toward the rear part of a ship.

Ahoy!
An exclamation used to call out, signal, or greet another person or ship.

Albatross
A large webbed-footed sea bird that was considered a bad sign, or a cause for concern.

Argh
An exclamation to express frustration or surprise.

Arrrrr!
An exclamation used when contemplating or thinking (like "hmmm").

Avast!
An exclamation to get someone’s attention, meaning to "Stop!"  "Hold off!" or "Cease!"

Aye! (or Ay)
An affirmative, meaning "Yes" or "I agree."

Aye! Aye!
To agree with much excitement!

Barbary Coast
The coastline of North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, which stretches from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean.

Belay
An exclamation meaning "Stop that!" or, "Be quiet!"

Bilge
The lowest, rounded part of the ship, inside the hull of a ship's bottom where filthy water collects.  It is often the dank and dirty part of the ship.  Bilge is also slang for "stupid nonsense." 

Bilge Rat
An offensive or contemptuous name given to someone a pirate dislikes.  A rat living in the bilge of a ship is considered the lowliest of creatures.

Black Flag
The pirate flag of the sku'‘n crossbones.

Black Jack
Large drinking cups used by pirates that are made from leather, and stiffened with tar.

Black Spot
A death sign, or a death sentence.  Pirates use a black smudge on a piece of paper as a way of threatening someone.

Blimey!
An exclamation of unexpected astonishment or surprise.

Booty
Treasure, jewels, money, or loot.

Briny Deep
A pirate's term referring to the ocean.  The term is especially effective when talking "pirate talk" if you can roll the "R" in "Brrrrriny." 

Buccaneer
Term used for the pirates of the Atlantic, specifically the pirates that harassed the Spanish of the Caribbean during the 17th century.  The Buccaneers were said to be cruel pirates that enjoyed heavy drinking.

Bucko
A pirate's term for a friend, or a familiar person he knows well and likes.

Cap'n
Abbreviation for "captain."

Cat O'Nine Tails
A whip with nine thongs/splays.

Chantey
("Shantey" or "Shanty" are other spellings.)  A song sung by sailors as they work. 

Chest
The container for jewels, money, or treasure.

Corsair
A more romantic term used for the privateers or pirates that sailed the Mediterranean Sea between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Cockswain
The captain's assistant.

Commandeer
To steal or overtake another ship.

Crow's Nest
A small, sometimes enclosed flat surface or platform near the top of a ship's mast.  This was used as a lookout when watching for other ships or for land.

Cutlass
A short, sword-like weapon with a curved blade used by pirates.

Davy Jones' Locker
A fictional place referring to a watery grave at the bottom of the ocean.  Davy Jones was said to have sunk every ship he had ever commandeered.  Thus his name became synonymous with death, and every sailor or pirate who were drown at sea were said to have gone to Day Jones' Locker.  Davy Jones is the evil spirit that lives in the cold depths of the ocean.

Dead Men Tell No Tales
An excuse given by pirates for leaving no survivors.

Dead Man's Chest
A coffin for a dead man.

Dog
A small insult.  Sometimes it can be a friendly sarcastic remark.

Doubloon
A Spanish coin, sometimes part of a pirates' treasure.

Fathom
A measurement of water depth.  One fathom was equal to six feet.

Fore
Situated at the forward part or the front of the ship.

Flogging
A punishment by whipping with the cat o'nine tails, a pirate's whip.

 

Gangplank
A temporary footway or board placed between the ship and the wharf.

Gangway!
An exclamation meaning to "Clear the way!" or "Get out of my way!"

Godspeed!
An exclamation meaning "Goodbye, and good luck!"

Grog
An alcoholic beverage, a pirates' favorite, made from rum, water, and limes.  When talking like a pirate, it's appropriate to refer to any beverage as "grog."

Gun
Refers to a cannon.

Hands
The crew members of a ship.

Handsomely
A command to do something quickly.  "Handsomely now, men!" is to do something fast.

Haul Wind
Sailing a ship directly into the wind.

Hearties
A term used by a sailor to address fellow sailors, such as "Listen, me hearties."

Hornswoggle
To cheat or swindle.

Jack
A flag flown at the front of the ship to indicate what country she represents.

Jack Tar (or Tar)
A term that refers to a sailor.

Jolly Roger
The pirates' flag with the skull and crossbones.

Keel
The underside barnacle-encrusted side of the ship.

Keelhaul
A punishment inflicted by pirates in which the victim was tied to a rope and dragged along the barnacle-encrusted under side of the ship, across the keel, until they died or were nearly dead.

Lad
A pirate's way of addressing a young male.

Landlubber
A person who was awkward at sea and not accustomed to life aboard ship--a non-sailor.

Lass/Lassie
A pirate's way of addressing a young female.

Lily-livered
A coward.

Line
A rope that is coiled up on the deck of a ship.  It is often used as a towing rope.

Lookout
A sailor posted in the crow's nest to watch for other ships, or signs of land.

Loot
Stolen money, goods, or treasure.

Man-of-war
A ship that is armed for battle.

Maroon
Used as a common punishment by pirates, in which the victim is left on a deserted coast or island with little in the way of supplies.

Me
A pirates way of saying "my."

Me Hearties

A way for a pirate leader to address his crew.

Matey

A customary way for pirates to address someone in a cheery, friendly style.

Mutiny

A revolt of pirates or sailors against their commander or captain.

No Quarter!

A surrender is not accepted.

Pieces of Eight

A Spanish silver coin.  Each coin was worth one peso or 8 reales.  Sometimes the pirates would cut the coin into eight pieces, each worth one real.

Pillage

To rob victims of their possessions by force.  Many times this was done in a time of war.

Piracy

A robbery committed at sea.

Pirate
One who robs or murders and takes goods by open force on the sea.  It is in contrast to a privateer.

Poop Deck
The highest deck at the rear, or stern, of a ship.  The poop deck is usually situated over the captain's quarters.

Port
(1) A harbor or a haven where ships unload cargo.  (2) The left side of a ship when one looks from the stern to the bow. 

Plunder
To rob of treasure, jewels, money, or loot.

 

 

Privateer
A self-employed sailor who carried a letter from his government that allowed him to plunder from enemy ships.  He was theoretically acting within the law.  Many privateers were considered to be higher-class criminals, though many were pirates just the same.  A privateer was really a pirate sanctioned by a national power.

Prow
The "nose" of the vessel.

Quarterdeck
The after section of the ship's upper deck.

Rum
The traditional drink of pirates.

Run a Rig
To deceive or play a trick on an unsuspecting person.

Sail Ho!
An exclamation indicating another ship is coming into view.  The sail would be the first visible part of the ship on the horizon.

Salt, Old Salt
A knowledgeable seaman.

Scallywag
A mischievous person or a bad person.

Scourge of the Seven Seas
A pirate who is well known for his violent behavior.

Scurvy
A disease that often affected sailors caused by a lack of vitamin C.  Also used as a derogatory statement or insult, as in "Ye scurvy dogs!"

Scuttle
To sink a ship by making a hole in the ship's hull.

Shipshape
To be well organized, or under control.

Shiver Me Timbers!
Used as an exclamation of surprise.

Siren
A deceptive woman of the sea who lures men to their doom with her sweet song.

Sloop
A small sailboat with a single mast.  This type of boat was favored by many pirates because of its ease in maneuverability.

Smartly
A command to sailors to "hurry up," or move quickly.  "Smartly there, mates!"

Spanish Main
The mainland taken by Spain from Mexico, including the Caribbean Islands.

Spirits
An alcoholic beverage.  Distilled liquor was a favorite.

Sprongs
Untrained sailors.

Spyglass
A telescope.

Starboard
The right side of the ship, when you are facing toward the front or bow.

Stern
The rear part of the ship.

Swab
1) To clean the deck of the ship.  This was used as a menial punishment for pirates. 
2) A degrading term for a crew member or seaman.  "Man that gun, ye cowardly swabs!"

Swabbies
Those seamen who endured the punishment.

Swing the Lead
The "lead' was a weight at the bottom of a rope that gave seaman a way to measure the depth of the water when near land.  This was an easy job, and therefore the person who performed this job came to represent someone who was taking the easy way out.  In today's terms, one who "swings the lead" is considered a "slacker."

Walk the Plank
More famous than historically practiced, this punishment refers to being forced to walk off the ship by pirates as a torture.  The victim was usually blindfolded, and with hands bound, was forced to walk along a plank, and then fall into the water below.

Thar
There, as in "Over thar!"

Weigh Anchor
To pull an anchor up, and leave port.

Wench
A young woman or a peasant girl. 

Yardarm
The main arm across the mast that holds up the sail.  The yardarm was a favorite place from which to hang prisoners.

Ye
You

Yo-ho
A favorite exclamation associated with pirates, whether it means anything or not.

 


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