Upon entering a new occupation, a person usually is confronted with the need
to learn the vocabulary of the trade in order to understand, and be understood by,
his or her co-workers.
Today, with the advent of highly sophisticated and detailed programs and
procedures at sea, the understanding and proper usage of nautical terminology has
never been more important. Safety and professionalism require that an entirely new
vocabulary be learned.
Under certain circumstances, a single word or phrase often makes a lot of
explanatory details unnecessary.
A misinterpreted order can easily cause confusion, loss of equipment, or even
loss of life. To prevent this danger, you must learn to say exactly what you mean.
This glossary is provided for your convenience. It is not intended to be
all-inclusive but does contain many orders and terms every Seaman should know.
AA-Abbreviation for antiaircraft.
ABACA-The wild banana plant of the Philippines.
Manila line is made from its fibers. Manila line is
no longer used for highline transfer.
ABAFT-To the rear of.
ABANDON SHIP-To leave the ship in an emergency
such as sinking.
ABEAM-Bearing 90° or 270° relative from own ship's
heading or course.
ABOARD-In a ship or on a naval station. CLOSE
ABOARD means near a ship, usually within 600
ABREAST-Beside one another; side by side in a line.
stairway hung over the side of a ship for ascending
from or descending to small boats.
ADRIFT-Loose from mooring; scattered about; not in
AFLOAT-Floating upon the water.
AFT-Pertaining to the stern, or toward the stern, of a
ship or aircraft.
AFTERNOON WATCH-The watch from noon to 4
AGROUND -When any part of a ship is resting on or is
in contact with bottom.
AHOY-The customary nautical hail to a boat or ship.
Supposedly once the dreaded war cry of the
AIDS TO NAVIGATION-Bells, markers, lights,
buoys, horns, radio stations, or any similar device
to assist navigators.
ALL HANDS-The entire ship's company.
ALOFT-Above the decks, on the mast, or in the
ALONGSIDE -At the side of a ship, pier, or dock; in a
AMIDSHIPS-In or toward the part of a ship midway
between the bow and the stem.
AMMO-Slang for ammunition.
ANCHOR-(1) A device used to hold a ship or boat fast
to the bottom. (2) The act of making fast. (3) The
act of securing or fixing the lower end of a guy or
ANCHOR AT SHORT STAY-Anchor chain at
minimum length with anchor still down.
ANCHOR BALL-A black, circular shape hoisted to
indicate that the ship is anchored.