Author Results for William Sayers

Note: The Etymology of List, ‘Inclination of a Ship’

By William Sayers

This note explores the etymology of the word list, meaning the inclination of a ship, including a discussion of Norse, Old English and French terminology. Read More

Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

Etymology of Squiligee and Squeegee

By William Sayers

An attempt to define the origin of words both connected to the removal of excess water. It is one of the vagaries of language that sailors should have become seascullions, labouring to remove excess water after swabbing the great bowl of the ship, like the land-bound cooks’ boys washing dishes and scrubbing pots in medieval […] Read More

Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea

Note: Etymology of Swiligee and Squeegee

By William Sayers

Various derivations of these words are examined, from medieval French and terms of the sea.  Sayer’s conclusion is that the sailor removing excess water from his vessel is using the same tool as a kitchen boy in a medieval household. Read More

Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea

Some English Sailing Terms with Norse Antecedents: Weather side, luff, tack, beat to windward

By William Sayers

Key terms in the English vocabulary of sailing to windward appear anomalous in dictionaries organized by mainstream English headwords. The Old Norse language, with Anglo-Norse and Anglo-Norman French as linguistic intermediaries, along with early medieval Scandinavian sailing technology are proposed as the source for this important word cluster. The tacking terms of ‘weather’, ‘beat’, ‘tack’ […] Read More

Filed under: Medieval | Other (location)
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Note: Parbuckling

By William Sayers

The origins of the word ‘parbuckle’ are examined together with its variants Read More

Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Note: Fid and Marlinspike Etymologies

By William Sayers

The earliest use of the word ‘fid’ is explored, with Thomas Harriot’s use of the word at the beginning of the seventeenth century noted. The connection between fids and marlinspikes  is explained. Read More

Filed under: Popular Topics | Other (Early Modern) | Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Note: Anchor-painter, Bow-painter: Etymology

By William Sayers

This discusses the origin of the word ‘painter’ as opposed to shrouds or other ropes. Read More

Filed under: Medieval | Other (location)
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Note: The Early Symbolism of Tarring and Feathering.

By William Sayers

The punishment of tarring and feathering has been carried out since the time of 1189, when it was used in naval contexts to punish those charged with theft or other antisocial acts. Read More

Filed under: Medieval | Other (location)
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea | Miscellaneous

Note: Skimmour, a transient late-medieval term for ‘pirate’

By William Sayers

Textual evidence from Middle English and the Continent are examined, with anecdotes illuminating the uses of the word. Read More

Filed under: Medieval | Pirates | Other (location)
Subjects include: Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

Fourteenth-Century English Balingers: Whence the Name?

By William Sayers

The etymologies of ‘balinger’ in the OED, from Fr. baleiner, ‘whaling ship’, and in the Middle English Dictionary, from Old French balingue, ‘beacon at sea, buoy’, are discounted, as is the route from Romance words for ‘coaster’, from Dutch bylander, in favour of Old Norse byrðinger, and thence to Middle Irish birrling and birlinn and […] Read More

Filed under: English Channel | High Middle Ages | North Sea | Irish Sea
Subjects include: Shipbuilding & Design

The Use of Quicklime in Medieval Naval Warfare

By William Sayers

Whether medieval navies used quicklime to incapacitate enemy sailors and to render their decks treacherous has not been satisfactorily answered. Drawing on the accounts of numerous medieval authors, including literary figures, this article proposes that quicklime was seen as a potential weapon. Evidence from actual sailors is admittedly scant, but observers described its use in […] Read More

Filed under: Late Middle Ages | English Channel | High Middle Ages | North Sea | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Weapons

Wetymologies : Limber, Scupper, Bilge

By William Sayers

A detailed exploration of the etyomology of three terms limber, scupper and bilge. Reference is made to many languages referring to ancient general texts as well as considering the specific nautical technical context and nautical history and exploration. Arguments for and against various interpretations assessed and reasons given. Read More

Filed under: Medieval | Other (location)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous | Shipbuilding & Design

Note: The Scend of the Sea – Etymology

By William Sayers

The use of ‘send’ or ‘scend’ is examined, with the derivations of both words taken back to Norse origins. Read More

Filed under: High Middle Ages | Other (location)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous

Some International Nautical Etymologies

By William Sayers

This article discusses the origin and semantic development of various nautical and maritime terms in the course of technological innovation and social intercourse along the European Atlantic seaboard, particularly in the medieval period. The selection focuses on terminology deriving from Old Norse, reflecting the substantial transfer of naval technology to Britain and Normandy. Read More

Filed under: Atlantic | Medieval | North Sea
Subjects include: Ship Handling & Seamanship

Note: The Etymology of Middle English OREVEN ‘Oar Blank’.

By William Sayers

Various theories for the derivation of the word ‘oar’ are explored. Read More

Filed under: Late Middle Ages | Other (location)
Subjects include: Miscellaneous