Pirate Lingo, Phrases
Real 17th century pirates actually did not spoke any different than a regular navy. They did not use any special pirate phrases or pirate words. Mostly it was just English language, that is today known as Early Modern English. Since the late 19th century, pirates in fiction, on the other hand, used a lot of pirate terms that are today associated with everything we like about pirates. Some of our favorite phrases from pirate lingo are listed below:
- Ahoy - A pirate greeting, or a shout to attract an attention. Something like "Hello!" or "Yo!".
- Arrr, Arrgh, Yarr, Gar - A common pirate terms, which are used in different situations.
- Avast - An order to stop and pay attention.
- Aye - "Yes"
- Aye aye - Conformation, taking order from the captain.
- Belay - Usually means to tie something down but pirates used it to prevent someone to do something.
- Booty – The treasures and other values plundered from the victim ships.
- Bucko - A friend.
- Davy Jones's Locker - A graveyard for people killed or drowned at the sea.
- Dead men tell no tales - Means that a dead man cannot reveal any secret or fact. It was the reason why the pirates didn't like to spare any survivors.
- I'll Crush Ye Barnacles - A common pirate's treat.
- Jolly Roger - The well-known pirate flags, usually represented with symbols of a skull and the crossbones. The most recognized symbol of the pirates.
- Lad - A younger person.
- Letters of Marquee - A document issued by a government, which allowed the privateers and the buccaneers to legally attack the ships and the colonies of an enemy nation.
- Maroon - To leave prisoners on island or desert coast.
- Matey - A companion, a close friend.
- Prize - A ship captured by pirates.
- Savvy - "Do you understand?"
- Sea Rover - A pirate, a pirate ship.
- Shiver me timbers - idiom for surprise, shock. Usually used when a ship is hit in combat.
- Smartly - To do something quickly.
- Sweet trade - Another term for the trade of piracy.
- Walk the plank - When someone is forced to walk on a plank, with hands tied behind. Plank is extended over the side of a ship, and victim is usually forced to jump to water and drown. Shown today as main pirates' amusement, although only a few real pirates practiced that.
- Weigh anchor - "let's go", "get ready to sail on".
- Yo-ho-ho - Salutation, expression of delight.