NAUTICAL LANGUAGE

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The historical significance of the sea is easy to see when one looks at our language.  Many words and expressions originate from our relationship with the sea. Western civilization has its roots in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. From the earliest Phoenician and Greek cultures, over two thousand years ago, the Mediterranean Sea was not only essential for survival, providing food, but also in maintaining economic and social ties between the people living around the sea. The language used from these early times became permeated with nautical terms. The nautical terms became the one universal language understood by different cultures. Throughout the ages, new words and phrases have entered into our language from this continuing tie to the oceans. The English language gained many additions during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when British naval and merchant ships traveled the seas. 

Some familiar words and phrases come unexpectedly from their use on the sea; from commonly used words like overwhelm (from the Middle English word meaning "to capsize") and casual (from the term "a casual" used to describe the wages paid to seamen between regular payments) to expressions like a "square meal" (from the square tray upon which the main meal of the day was served  on early British warships) and "Please stand by" (an expression derived from the command for sailors to be ready).

Below we have assembled a list of some of the more common words and phrases that relate to our connection to the sea:

A    B    C    D       F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z

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