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Can anyone add to the list of Naval sayings that have entered the language and what they originaly meant such as
"Let the cat out of the bag" The Cat of nine tails was the whip that was used on Sailors on being found guilty of an offence and was kept sealed in a bag.

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'Freeze the balls of a brass monkey'. I believe this stems from the brass triangle that the 'ready' ammunition (balls) were stacked upon. When it got especially cold, the brass triangle would contract , and the neat pyramid of cannon balls would be popped out , and scatter across the deck. :o

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Believe it or not the expression SWEET FANNY ADAMS (SFA) was a Naval expression that became incorperated within normal language. Fanny Adams (Sweet Fanny Adams) Was the child victim of a notorious Victorian murder case. Fanny Adams aged approximately nine was murdered at Alton, Hants on 24 April 1867. The murderer (Frederick Baker, a solicitor's clerk, aged 29) cut the body up into pieces, some of which were allegedly found in Deptford Victualling Yard.

Baker was tried at Winchester and hanged in December 1867. At about this time tinned mutton was introduced into the Navy and soon acquired the name of Fanny Adams. The tins were subsequently used by sailors as mess gear. The name "fanny" is still the Naval slang for a cooking pot as well as being used in the nickname sense. ;)

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Guest dimdem

Can anyone add to the list of Naval sayings that have entered the language and what they originaly meant such as

"Let the cat out of the bag" The Cat of nine tails was the whip that was used on Sailors on being found guilty of an offence and was kept sealed in a bag.

I've heard a very different origin for this one, which involved the practice of selling young pigs inside bags. A crook would put a cat inside the bag in place of a pig. When the "cat was let out of the bag," the secret was revealed. The expression "a pig in a poke" is related.

Although this page suggests we are both probably wrong.

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Welcome dimdem,

Who would be stupid enough to buy a 'pig in a bag' without first looking at it? And how would you stop the cat from making meow noises?

The Royal Navy , I believe was the only Navy to flog its naughty sailors.

Perhaps 'Firfly' can help us on this one.

John

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Another one is the derogatory term "tow rag" to describe someone of dubious character.

This comes from the rag tied to a length of rope that was constantly dangling in the water at the head of the ship where the ships toilets or "heads" were situated. This was pulled up to be used.... you guessed it...... as the communal toilet paper.

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The term "on the fiddle" is another one that ties in to the square meal. Around the edge of the square plate was a piece of piping called the fiddle. All meals had to be served on the plate within the fiddle, if the food when rationed out went over the edge of the fiddle it meant the sailor had more than his fair ration share.

Those that where caught stealing where said to be "on the fiddle" as they were having more than they were entitled to as in food being "on the fiddle" mark or over their fair share. Woe betide anyone doing such a thing as it meant a flogging if caught by an officer or a good kicking if caught by their ship mates. :violent-smiley-017:

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Rick Jolly's Jack speak about Royal Navy slanguage is a good read, if you havent already biggrin.gif I havent read it for years but it may contain older Royal Navy sayings, it is very funny.

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"Glory hole" is a back formation, I think, from "hand of glory," which I can't find any reference for, but know as a common Anglo-Irish expression here*--

The "HAND of glory" was, if I remember correctly, an extremity amputated from the corpse of an executed murderer left hanging in a gibbet and best sawn off in moonlight-- once common in supposed black magic bags of tricks. Or perhaps derived from the Imperial Roman public fountain with a gaping mouth, in which if a liar inserted his fist, it was supposedly bitten off. I seem to recall a "hand of glory" figuring largely in one of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn stories, probably the ones featuring the con man "the Dauphin." Or maybe one featured in "Treasure Island."

So I think it's from that sense of ye dinnae ken what's in a small dark place wan ye puts yer wiggly-iggly fingies innit. ninja.gif

* well, at least in MY "Addams" family, two ancestral witches hanged on Hartford (Connecticut) green 6 March 1650/1.

catjava.gif

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