Pirate Words and Phrases
Any community along the water has legends and stories about pirates using the bays, bayous, and other waterways to hide themselves and their treasures. While the “golden age of piracy” was the early 1700’s piracy found new life in and around the Northwest Florida Coast about 100 years later. While historians debate the factual existence of Billy Bowlegs, the legendary pirate who hid his treasure along the waters of Fort Walton Beach and invaded the city, the Emerald Coast chooses to celebrate our pirate history. If you’re celebrating in Fort Walton Beach at the Bowlegs Festival or looking for treasure aboard the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, it can be helpful to know some of the in and outs of “pirate speak”. From the Pirates of The Caribbean Series to Peter Pan and everything in between, pirates continue to capture our imaginations. Learning a little pirate speak can be a fun way to more fully engage in some local history and legends. How many have you heard?
- Ahoy – A pirate greeting or a way to get someone’s attention, similar to “Hello” or “hey!”.
- Arrr, Arrgh, Yarr, Gar – Pirates slang used to emphasize a point.
- Avast – Pirate speak for pay attention.
- Aye – “Yes”
- Aye aye – Confirmation that an order is understood.
- Blimey: An expression of disbelief or disappointment.
- Booty – The treasures and other valuables plundered from the victim ships.
- Davy Jones’s Locker – How pirates reference burials at sea, a watery grave yard.
- Dead men tell no tales – If the mob says “snitches get stiches”, pirates believe that dead men can’t tell anyone of their secrets. Historians believe this is why pirates were ruthless and didn’t spare many survivors.
- Heave: Coming to a halt or stop.
- ‘ll Crush Ye Barnacles – A common pirate threat.
- Matey – A pirate’s friend.
- Parley: A conference of opposing sides to come a truce or agreement.
- Prize – A ship captured by pirates.
- Run A Shot Across The Bow: Fire a warning shot
- Savvy – “Do you understand?”
- Scupper That: Throw that overboard!
- Shiver me timbers – An expression of surprise, usually used after a pirate ship has been hit, when the “timbers” of the ship would shake or splinter from the blows.
- Walk the plank: Punishment for captives and prisoners who were forced to jump off the ship with hands tied behind their backs, almost certainly visiting “Davey Jones’s locker”
- Weigh anchor – Pirate speak for get a move on, or let’s go.
- Yo-ho-ho– Pirate slang for excitement or having a good time, like 17th century “lit” or “fire”.
You and your family can explore whether or not Northwest Florida’s pirate history is more fact or fiction and decide for yourself. So, Avast Mateys, Anchors Away, Raise The Jolly Roger! Just don’t walk the plank!