How To Talk Like A Pirate

To get you in the spirit of The Day I Became A Pirate, and to prepare in advance for Talk Like A Pirate Day, I thought I’d post a few terms we should all be familiar with as pirates.

Argh!’ is a pirate grumble to express discontent or disgust. You might use this if The Captain tells you to clean your room or eat your vegetables.

Ahoy!’ is a friendly way to say ‘hello’. If a pirate says ‘Ahoy!’ to you, it means they are being friendly, and that you can consider yourself safe for at least the next two minutes. If you say ‘Ahoy, Matey’, it means you are saying ‘hello’ to a friend. To address a group of friends you would say ‘Ahoy, me Hearties!’

Aye‘ is how a pirate says ‘yes’, and is often used as an expression of agreement. If The Captain tells you to swab the deck, you might respond with ‘Aye Captain’, or if someone at the rail says ‘The weather be nice t’day’ you could also respond with a long ‘aayyyyye’ to show you agree.

Batten down the hatches‘ is what a pirate does before a storm approaches or before entering rough seas. Basically this means to put everything away and tie down any loose articles so they don’t get blown out to sea, but you can also use it as a general warning to ‘get prepared’.

Blimey!’ and ‘blow me down!’ are expressions of surprise or disbelief. You might yell out ‘Blimey!’ if your mate turns up with four aces in a card game, and follow up with ‘Well, blow me down!’ when you show that you have one, too.

Booty‘ is another word for pirate treasure, and all pirates think about from morning ’till eve. When a pirate gives up some booty for a good deed done, you know it’s something special.

Buccaneer‘ is a formal name for a pirate. It’s also the price most pirates are willing to pay to get their ears pierced.

The ‘crow’s nest‘ is the small lookout platform on top of the main mast where a pirate will climb to get a better view of the horizon and to look out for land, ships, or a nice place to stop for dinner.

A ‘cutlass‘ is a short curved sword that pirates prefer for their strength and ease of use in tight quarters. For instance on a ship.

Davy Jones’ Locker‘ is a place you don’t want to go. Technically it refers to the bottom of the ocean (where Davy Jones keeps his prisoners), but basically it means ‘death’. If you hear another pirate threaten to ‘send you to Davy Jone’s Locker‘, you’ll know he is threatening to kill you if you don’t give up the location of the booty.

Dead men tell no tales‘ is an old pirate saying that means to leave no survivors. Pirates are pretty secretive, and it’s best not to leave anyone around who might tell what they saw.

Heave ho‘ means to give it all your might. This is usually used to inspire a group of pirates as they hoist the anchor or haul in a chest of booty.

Hornswaggle‘ means to cheat someone out of their money. It usually refers to the use of a trick or a scam to do the cheating. ‘I’ve been hornswaggled’ means you just realized that a clever math trick just cost you twice as much for those fish tacos.

Jolly Roger‘ is a black pirate flag featuring a white skull and crossbones. It is meant to cause fear in the hearts of those who see it, and serves as a warning that pirates are on the way.

Lad‘ is a term for a male who is younger than you are. ‘Laddie‘ might be used to address a very young male pirate or child.

Lass‘ is a term for a young female, and ‘Lassie‘ for a younger female including children.

Landlubber‘ is a person who lives on the land and who is unfamiliar with the ways of the sea. This is usually a derogatory term used to describe someone who is clumsy around the ship or who get’s seasick easily.

Mizzen‘ is the third mast from the bow of the ship. If your ship doesn’t have three masts, you don’t have a mizzen.

An ‘Old Salt‘ is an aging or experienced sailor. Usually reserved for elderly pirates who have a grumbly attitude, it can also be an endearing term to indicate an old pirate who is wise.

Pieces of eight‘ and ‘doubloons‘ are the coins kept in pirate chests of booty. Usually made of gold, if you find one of these, I be missing one.

Pillage‘ means to rob, but usually means more damage was done in the process like a ‘ransack’. Pirates like to pillage because it leaves more mess and is generally more trouble that a simple robbery.

A ‘Poop deck‘ is the part of the ship farthest to the back and fairly high up. The Captain’s quarters are usually right below the poop deck, which is why you should never confuse it with the head. (The ‘head’ is the toilet on a pirate ship.)

When you ‘Run a shot across the bow‘, you are firing a canonball across the bow of a ship to send a warning to another ship. It is a warning to ‘stop’, and implies that the next one might not be quite so far out ahead.

Savvy‘ means that you are smart or that you understand. It can be used as a one-word question to confirm that other pirates understand your instructions: Savvy?

Scallywag‘ refers to a scoundrel or a person who is seen as avoiding the work of the day. For instance you might find a band of pirates referring to a lazy pirate as a ‘scallywag’ for not getting any work done.

Scurvy dog‘ is a pirate insult. Basically you are being called a ‘dog’, but with the added injury of having scurvy, which is a condition common to pirates who are on the open sea for too long and are suffering from a deficiency of vitamin C, which can make you crazy.

Walk the plank‘ is a common pirate punishment in which a prisoner or bad pirate is made to walk off the end of a board at the side of a ship. Aside from getting all wet, the prisoner usually ends up being left behind.

Weigh anchor‘ is what we call the hoisting of the anchor at the end of another day of plundering at port.

Add your own favorites in the comments…

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2 thoughts on “How To Talk Like A Pirate

  1. Pingback: Meet Stash | The Day I Became A Pirate

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