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Piratese : a Pirate Dictionary

Updated on February 26, 2012

So You Want to Talk Like A Pirate...

Job applications, colleges, high schools, and volunteer agencies all love people who speak multiple languages. Piratese is the language of those adventurous buccaneers. Read on, and by the end of the page, you too shall be speaking like a native pirate. Arrrgh!

Things Modern Kid Pirates Might Say

Your friends want you to go help look for buried treasure. But you can't and tell them "ME DEAR OL' MUM TOL' ME TO HAVE A BIT OF A LIE-DOWN."

Mom said I have to take a nap.

You nearly stumble upon a hole your friends are digging. They shout out "USE YOUR DEADLIGHTS MATEY!"

Look where you're going!


Hurry up ladies and gentlemen.

Your parents just got back from the store and have several bags. They shout "ALL HANDS HOAY!"

Everyone come and help!

You ask if you can help with chores around the house, and you dad tells you to "SWAB THE DECKS."

Mop the floor.

You tell the nurse aboard ship "GOT ME A CASE O'TH'SNIFFLES."

I've got a cold.

Your pirate teacher says, "BELAY THAT TALK."

Be quiet.

Your buccaneer principal yells "AVAST."


You're walking down a crowded hall carrying a heavy load of treasure and yell "GANGWAY!"

Move over, because I'm coming through.

The pirate librarian shouts out "BELAY THAT RUNNIN'!" as you go by the desk.

Walk please


Listen up! Don't faint! I'm cleaning my room. (NOTE: This is not something a typical pirate would say. Pirates are not known for their cleanliness.)

Pirate Books for Young Mates

The Five A's of Piratese

Chumbucket and Cap'n Slappy, the official Talk Like a Pirate Day guys, teach us the Five A's of Piratese and how to use them properly.

Piratese A-C


ALL HANDS HOAY-"All hands on deck."

ALL SEWN UP-everything is all finished. Comes from tradition of sewing a dead sailor up in his hammock with a cannon ball when being buried at sea.

AU QUAI (OK)-in dock and safe (French).

AVAST YE!-"Be quiet!" "Stop!"

AYE, AYE SIR!-answer upon being given an order.


BILGE RAT-common term of abuse... such as "You scurvy bilge rat!"

BLOW ME DOWN-a surprise.

BLUELY-to have bad luck.

BOG-ORANGE-a potato.

(TO) BOOT-also.

BOTTLE-HEAD-idiot, fool.

BRACE OF SHAKES-"In two shakes of a lamb's tail."

BURGOO-boiled oatmeal seasoned with butter, sugar, and salt. Also called LOBLOLLY.


THE CAPTAIN IS NOT AT HOME-to run out of money.

CAPTAIN GRAND--a haughty individual.

CAST AWAY-to be forced away from a ship by disaster.

CATGUT SCRAPER-Any of the fiddlers in the band aboard ship.

THE CAT HAS KITTENED IN MY MOUTH-"I have a foul taste after drinking too much."

CATTING-chasing harlots.

CLAP IN IRONS-to chain up a prisoner.


A Li'l Pirate's ABSeas

Capt Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket are at it again. This time, they've written their own picture book on Lulu. Watch as they read you part of the book.

Piratese D-H

DANCE AT THE GRATINGS-to be flogged with the cat-o-nine-tails.


DAVY JONES-a spirit or sea-devil who lived at the bottom of the sea… Davy Jones's Locker.


DEEP SIX-to discard or throw something out. (This comes from the custom of making sure the water was at least six fathoms (36 ft.) deep before throwing a body overboard.)

DERELICT-a ship abandoned at sea.

THE DEVIL TO PAY AND NO HOT PITCH-a desperate situation without any foreseeable solution.

DOGSBODY-sea biscuits, or hardtack, soaked in water to a pulp, with added sugar.

DONKEY'S BREAKFAST-bed or mattress aboard ship, usually filled with straw.

DOUGHBOYS-hard dumplings made of flour boiled in sea water.

DRINK TILL YOU GIVE UP YOUR HALF PENNY-to drink until one throws up.

EGAD, MATELOT!-fictional buccaneer greeting.

FAIR WINDS!-"Goodbye, good luck!"

FIGUREHEAD-ornamental devices to show off an owners' wealth or taste. Topless ladies as figureheads were popular because sailors believed that the bare breasts of women would calm stormy seas.

FILIBUSTIERS-sea born raiders.

FISH BROTH-sea water.

GALLEYPEPPER-soot and ashes that fell into the pirates' meals from the cook's open fire in his galley.


GANGWAY!-"Move out of my way 'cause I'm carrying a heavy load!"

GIVE A WIDE BERTH-steer clear of.

GROG-watered down rum.

GROG SHOP-tavern, pub.


HANDSOMELY-quickly, hurry up.

HALF SEAS OVER-nearly finished.

HAPPY AS A SANDBOY-term derived from when certain taverns would pay young boys with beer to dig up sand, which was spread over the floors to soak up spilled beer.


rock and a hard place."


HIDE A LOUSE FOR THE SAKE OF ITS SKIN-to be thrifty or try to save something.



HORSE MARINE-insult by a seamen to a marine implying that the marine was a land-lubber.


Piratical Books for Older Buccaneers

Want to own your own piratical library? Check out these great books on the pirates' lifestyle

Piratese I-N

IN HIS BOOTS-"dead-drunk."

JACK TAR-popular name for a seaman.

JOLLY ROGER-black skull and crossbones pirate flag. It was probably named after Black Bart Roberts. Roberts would dress up in red silk before a battle. He thus became known as "le jolie rouge."

KILL-CALF-murderous ruffian.

KING NEPTUNE-ruler of the oceans.

KISS THE WOODEN LADY-light punishment in which the perpetrator stood facing a mast with his arms lashed around it. Shipmates were then encouraged to kick him in the butt as they passed.

LACED MUTTON-a wanton woman.

LAND LUBBER-non-sailor.

LAND TO-land can be sighted in the distance. Land ho, while more familiar today, is not an authentic phrase.

LIMES-ships carried limes aboard since the late 18th century in order to prevent scurvy.

LONG SPLICE-marriage.


LOOT-treasure. Also called SWAG, BOOTY, BOUNTY, MINE!!!

LOWER THE BOOM-to halt someone's ambition or reprimand them severely.

LUBBER-unskilled or clumsy man.

MAKE HEAVY WEATHER-to make unnecessary work.

MANNERS-non-existent among piratical creatures.


ME HEARTIES-how a pirate leader addresses his crew.

MUD HOOK-an anchor.

NO GREAT SHAKES-of no or little value.

NO QUARTER!-Surrender will not be accepted!

A PIrates's Favorite Color

What happens when Blackbeard, Redbeard, and Bluebeard meet? It might just surprise you....

Piratese O-R

ON THE ACCOUNT-being involved in piracy.

ON THE ROCKS-in desperate trouble.

PEG LEG-a pirate who had lost a leg and wore a wooden leg in its place.

PIPE DOWN-"Shut up! You're talking too much."

PIRATE HOOKS-the hook believed to be strapped to an amputated hand with a piece of leather. NO records shoe any pirates having survived the hand amputation surgery. The modern idea probably comes from Capt. Hook from Peter Pan.

POXY-diseased (insult).

HE PISSES MORE THAN HE DRINKS-a pirate who boasts.

PISTOL PROOF-a pirate who knows what he is doing and can't be harmed.

POOR JOHN-salted, dried fish.

PUNCH HOUSE-brothel that served alcohol.


QUARTER-mercy given to a surrendering or defeated crew.

QUEUE-pigtail worn by most pirates and stiffened with a flour and water mixture. Also called a RAT'S TAIL.



RED-anything made of gold.

REST ONE'S OARS-to stop one's effort.

PULL ONE'S OARS-to help one's colleagues.

ROSEWATER SAILER-incompetent sailor.

ROUGH TALK-swearing.

RUB SALT INTO THE WOUND-the act of rubbing salt into the wounds of someone who had been flayed with a cat-o-nine-tails to make the punishment more painful.

RUN A RIG-to play a trick.

RUNNING A TIGHT SHIP-there are no loose ends and everything is ship shape.

What Does Every Pirate Want to Do?

Why sing and dance of course!

Piratese S-Z

A SAIL!-cry when a ship is spotted at sea.

SAILING ON ANOTHER BOARD-behaving differently.

SALT JUNK-salt beef carried in casks of brine water.

SAWBONES-ship surgeon.

SCALLYWAG-pirates who love mischief.

(SCRATCH) YOU SCRATCH MY BACK AND I'LL SCRATCH YOUR'S-you do me a favor and I'll do you one in return. This specifically referred to trying to get a friend to carry out his cat-o-nine-tails punishment. They would have their friend "scratch" their back (lightly hit) as opposed to flaying it (which could cause death).


SEA LEGS-ability to walk steadily on the deck of a pitching ship and the ability to resist sea-sickness.

SEA ROVERS-pirates, buccaneers, and sea-robbers.

SEA SHANTY-working son to help co-odinate in pulling ropes and lines. Also called CHANTEYS.

SEE HOW THE LAND LIES-to ask for the bill in a tavern.

SEVEN SEAS-Arctic, Antarctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Oceans. 1450-1650-Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

SHAKE A CLOTH IN THE WIND-slightly drunk or tipsy.

SHAPE UP-"Get your act together."

SHARK BAIT-one who is about to feed the fish.

SHELLBACK-old, experienced seaman. Refers to him probably eating so much turtle that he has developed a shell.


SHOW A LEG!-"Move!"

SING OUT-to ask someone to share their opinion.



SURE AS A GUN-to be positive or sure.

SWASHBUCKLER-well-dressed, dashingly handsome pirate.


SWEET TRADE-piracy or buccaneering.

SWING THE LEAD-"Take it easy."

TELL IT TO THE PARROT-spread gossip, tell everyone.

WALK THE PLANK-type of punishment.

(ALL) WASHED UP-worthless.

WEIGH ANCHOR-to leave port.

WENCH-any female.

WINDBAG-boastful person.


Talk Like a Pirate at Work

Learn useful pirate phrases while learning how to improve your best pirate voice.

Photo Credits

All photos are used with permission from everystockphoto.

Creative Commons Attribution Agreement

Arrrr! Sign Me Guestbook or Walk the Plank!

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Grrrrrrrrreat job on the Pirrrrrrrrratese.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You've used the biggest ever in the option to comment, but not in the list! Arrr ye varmint! Put it in yon list or you'll be a vittlin' with Davy Jones!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      6 years ago from GRENADA

      I squid-liked this lens on a previous occasion. I returned to BLESS it today!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting!

    • TradeStationTools profile image

      Tim Spears 

      6 years ago

      Place to understand pirate talk, that's great.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Perfect to go with your pirate storytime!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Sounds like a lot of fun, it's always fun to be a pirate :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      That would have come in handy the other day for "International Talk Like a Pirate Day."

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      7 years ago from Vermont

      Haulin' anchor here to list ye on me piratey lenses of coloring, crafts and clip art for the little scallywags and treasure hunters.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Off to gnaw some Salt Junk, Matey. Ahoy, to boot!

    • hlkljgk profile image


      7 years ago from Western Mass

      love it you scallywag! lensrolling to my pirate metal lens :)

    • Joyce Mann profile image

      Joyce T. Mann 

      7 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      Aye aye! Capt'n One fun lens. thanks!

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 

      7 years ago from California

      This lens is wonderful! And I do want to learn how to talk like a pirate!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      Adding this as a featured lens on my pirate everything lens. Great job!

    • garyrh1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Arrr... this be a funny lens!

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 

      8 years ago from New York

      This is awesome Chriss. I'll study up to be ready for the next National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Pirate Day is the best holiday ever. I'm still waiting for Pirate Polly.


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