Today’s nautical terms

I did start putting up nautical terms in everyday use, but they got lost somewhere in the Bay of Biscay, so I’m starting again. Here are two for today.

The bitter end: it sounds like it could be related to bitter irony or something like that. Apparently it comes from the anchor chain, or rope, which was attached to the anchor at one end and to bitts, or posts fastened to the deck. Once you had let out all the rope there was nowhere to go.

Taken aback. Which I was to discover that it was originally ships that were taken aback. ‘Aback’, which once meant ‘to the rear’. If the wind changed suddenly, the sails on a ship would be blown flat against the mast.

 

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