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Glossary

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Aback: (said of a sail) adj., arranged so that a wind pushes against the front side
Abaft: prep., closer to the stern than
Above: adj., on the vessel's deck
Aft: adv., in, near, or towards the stern of the vessel
After: adj., in, near, or towards the stern of the vessel
Aloft: adj., in or toward the upper rigging
Anon: adv., soon
Apoplexy: (a) n., unconsciousness; (b) n., stroke
Appal: v., frighten
At length: adv., eventually
Auger: n., a drill-shaped device used for moving material or liquid along its rotating threads
Aught: n., anything
Avast: v., to stop or halt
Awful: adj., inspiring wonder or fear

Back: (said of a yard) v., to rotate so that a sail catches the wind from the front. This is done to slow or stop the vessel
Backstay: n., a rope from the top of a mast back towards the vessel's stern
Baleen: n., the horny material through which right whales strain sea water when they eat
Ballast: n., weight placed at the bottom of a vessel to steady it
Beaver hat: n., a top had made of felted beaver fur
Before the mast: adj., like common sailors
Belike: adv., probably
Bespeak: v., to give evidence of
Bestir: v., to rouse
Bethink: (oneself) v., to reflect upon
Betoken: v., to be a sign of
Bilge-pump: n., a device used to remove water that collects in the very bottom of a ship
Billow: n., a large wave
Binnacle: n., a built-in housing for the compass on a ship
Block: n., a pulley or set of pulleys
Bluff-bowed: adj., with front shaped like a bluff or face of a cliff
Boatswain: n., the officer of a ship in charge of the rigging and of calling the crew to duty. Pronounced "BOE-sun" and sometimes spelled "bosun"
Bowline: (a) n., a rope used to steady the edge of a square sail in strong winds; (b) n., a specific looped knot
Bow: n., the front end of a vessel
Bowsman: n., the person who paddles at the front of a boat
Bowsprit: n., a pole extending forward from a sailing vessel's prow
Brace: (a) n., a rope used to rotate a square sail on its mast, to change the sail's position relative to the wind; (b) n., a pair
Brig: n., a two-masted sailing vessel with square sails on both masts
Brigand: n., a robber or bandit
Brimstone: n., sulfur
Brit: n., tiny marine microorganisms upon which the right whale feeds
Bruit: v., to gossip about
Buckler: n., a small round shield
Bulkhead: n., a wall dividing compartments of a vessel
Bulwarks: n., the parts of the sides of a vessel that extend up above the deck
Busk: n., a hard, flat object used for stiffening the front of a corset
Butts: n., large casks, especially ones that hold two hogsheads, or 126 gallons, of liquid

Calabash: n., a large, woody gourd
Cannikin: n., a small cup
Cant: v., to lean or tilt
Cape Horn: n., the southernmost point of the South American continent
Capstan: n., a vertical revolving spool used for hoisting heavy loads
Carline: n., ceiling beam
Carrol Ground: n., a whale-hunting area off the coast of Angola, Africa
Charger: n., a cavalry horse
Charm: n., spell, incantation
Chase: n., quarry, something that is hunted
Chock: n., a heavy metal or wood fitting with two inward-curving jaws for running a rope through
Cholo: n., someone of mixed Spanish and American Indian heritage
Circular: n., a printed notice intended for mass distribution
Circumnavigate: v., to sail all the way around something
Citadel: n., a fortress within a city
Cleat: n., T-shaped piece of metal or wood, meant to secure ropes to
Cockpits: n., a small compartment in a vessel below the waterline
Companionway: n., a staircase leading from the deck down to compartments below
Conclude: v., to decide
Confluent: adj., flowing together
Confound: v., toconfuse
Contract: v., to compress
Cooper: n., someone who makes and repairs barrels and pails
Copestone: (a) n., the top stone of a wall; (b) n., the finishing touch
Countenance: n., face
Counterpane: n., bedspread
Cozen: v., to mislead, deceive
Craven: adj., cowardly
Crosstree: n., one of two horizontal struts at the upper ends of the topmasts of sailboats, used to anchor the lines of the mast above
Crowd all sail: v., to spread all of a vessel's sails to increase speed
Crozetts: n., the Crozet Islands, an archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean
Cruising-ground: n., an area of the sea where whaling ships hunt for whales
Cupidity: n., greed
Cutting in: n., cutting the blubber off a whale
Cut-water: n., the forward part of a vessel's bow

Dam: n., mother
Dart: v., to throw
Davy Jones's Locker: n., the bottom of the sea
Descry: v., to catch sight of
Directly: adj., at once
Dismast: v., to carry away a vessel's masts
Dispatch: v., to deal with
Divers: adj., diverse
Draught: n., draft

Eddy: n., a current that moves contrary to the direction of the main current
Effulgent: adj., brightly shining
Engender: v., to give rise to
Essay: v., to try, attempt
Ever and anon: adv., now and then
Evince: v., to demonstrate
Expatiate: v., to write about at length
Fabulous: adj., mythical

Fancy: v., to imagine
Fain: (a) adj., obliged; (b) adj., gladly
Fast: (said of a whaleboat), adj., attached to a whale with harpoon and rope
Fathom: n., a distance of six feet
Festoon: n., loop
Fireboard: n., a board used to cover a fireplace when not in use
Fire worshippers: n., Zoroastrians, who use fire in their religious rites (but do not worship it)
Firmament: n., the heavens or sky
Fishery: n., industry
Fluke: n., one of the lobes of a whale's tail
Flurry: n., the violent spasms of a dying whale
Fly: v., to flee
For aye: adv., forever
Fore-and-aft sail: n., a sail set parallel to the hull of a vessel
Forecastle: n., the forward part of a ship below deck, usually used as the crew's quarters. Pronounced "FOKE-sul" and sometimes spelled "foc's'le"
Fore-masthead: n., at the top of the mast at the front of the ship
Foresail: n., the principal sail on the mast nearest the bow of a ship
Forward: adj., toward the front of the vessel
Founder: v., to fill with water and sink
Freshet: n., a sudden overflow of a stream, for example after a spring thaw
Frigate: n., a medium-sized warship that typically had colored pennants at the top of its masts
Fuller: n., a worker or machine that cleans and shrinks newly woven cloth
Furlong: n., a distance of 220 yards

Gain: (a) v., to reach; (b) v., to win
Gam: n., a social meeting between the crews of two ships on the open sea
Gamesome: adj., playful
Girdle: n., belt
Goney: n., gooney bird, or black-footed albatross
Grampus: n., orca
Gripe: v., grab, grasp
Ground: (a) n., background; (b) n., area of the sea
Ground-tier: n., the lowest level of casks in a ship's cargo hold
Gunwale: n., the upper edge of the side of a vessel

Halyard: n., a rope used for raising or lowering a sail
Hamper: n., shackles
Handspike: n., a wooden rod with an iron tip, used as a lever on ships
Hard by: adj., close to
Harpoon: n., a barbed weapon thrown at a whale
Hatch: n., an opening in the deck of a vessel leading to compartments below
Heave: v., to move a vessel into a particular position
Heave down: (said of a ship) v., to tip a vessel over to clean or repair the bottom
Heave to: (said of a ship) v., to turn a sailing vessel so that its bow faces the wind and it drifts
Helm: n., the steering gear of a vessel
Hempen: adj., made of hemp
Hist: v., an exclamation used to call for attention
Hogshead: n., a cask that holds 63 gallons
Hold: n., the interior of a ship, usually the cargo area
Horse-collar: n., the part of a horse's harness that circles the neck to distribute the load
Housings: n., cloths put on a horse for protection
Hove out: (said of a ship) v., past tense, removed from the water
Hove to: (said of a ship) v., past tense, turned so that the vessel faces into the wind and drifts
Howdah: n., a canopied seat set on the back of an elephant
Hyperborean: adj., Arctic

Immemorial: adj., from the distant past
Indolent: adj., lazy
In-shore: adj., close to shore
Invest: v., to clothe or cover

Jet: (a) n., spout; (b) adj., black
Jib: n., a triangular sail in front of the foremast
Jib-boom: n., a pole that extends from the bowsprit at the front of the ship
Joint-stock: adj., a type of company ownership in which ownership is shared among those who buy shares
Jonah: n., the biblical prophet who was swallowed by a whale
Jove: n., Jupiter, the chief god of Roman mythology
Jupiter: n., the chief god of Roman mythology

Keel: (a) n., the long structure at the bottom of a vessel, on which the rest of the hull is built; (b) v., to capsize
Kelson: n., a timber fastened parallel to a ship's keel for support
Kindle: v., to set fire to
King-Post: n., a vertical pole, shorter than a mast, that is used to support one of a ship's cargo-handling booms

Lance: n., a long weapon for hunting with a wooden shaft and pointed steel head
Larboard: adj., an archaic term for "port," that is, the part of a vessel that is on the left when one is facing forward. The larboard side is the side on which cargo is loaded.
League: n., a distance of three miles
Lee: (a) n., shelter from weather or wind; (b) adj., in the direction the wind is blowing towards
Lees: n., residue, such as the sediment at the bottom of a wine barrel
Leeward: adj., on the side sheltered from the wind
Leviathan: n., a biblical sea monster
Life-spot: n., on a whale, an internal mass of coiled arteries that, when pierced by a lance aimed behind the fin, cause rapid death
Line: n., the Equator
Line-of-battle ship: n., a ship-of-the-line warship, designed to sustain direct bombardment from enemy forces and to deliver the same
Loggerhead: n., a post on a whaleboat used to secure the harpoon rope
Lower: v., to lower a ship's whaleboats into the water
Luff: v., to sail closer into the wind
Lumber: v., to burden

Maelstrom: n., a giant whirlpool
Main-chains: n., a horizontal fitting like a shelf on the outside of the ship, to which the ropes steadying the mainmast are attached
Malignity: n., malevolence
Man-of-war: n., armed sailing ship
Mark: v., to look at
Marling-spike: n., a tapered iron tool used to separate the strands of rope when splicing
Mast-head: n., a duty assignment to spend at the top of the mast, watching for whales and perils
Meridian: n., longitude
Middle-watch: n., a watch shift from midnight to 4 a.m.
Mizen: n., the mizzenmast, the mast to the rear of the ship
Mole: n., a large pier or breakwater between two areas of land separated by water
Monkey jacket: n., a short, tight-fitting jacket traditionally worn by sailors
Moor: v., to fasten with cables
Moot: adj., subject to debate
Mogul: n., a king of the Mughal Empire that ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from the 16th to the 19th centuries

Narwhal: n., a species of Arctic whale with a single long tusk
Nigh: adj., near
Nominal: adj., in name only
Nor' West Coast: n., the northernmost coasts of North America, both east and west

Oakum: n., hemp or jute fiber used for caulking a ship's seams
Oblique: n., at an angle of less than 90 degrees
Offing: n., a view of the more distant part of the sea
Onset: n., assault, onslaught
Orlop: n., the lowest deck of a ship

Parmacetty: n., sperm whale or spermaceti. Also spelled "parmacetti"
Parsee: n., a member of the Zoroastrian sect in India
Peaked: adj., with blades raised straight up, or nearly straight up
Peremptory: adj., bossy, imperious
Phrenology: n., a pseudo-science that seeks clues to a person's character or personality by studying the shape of their skull
Phrensy: n., frenzy
Physiognomy: n., a pseudo-science that seeks clues to a person's character or personality by studying their face
Piled-up: (said of a ship) adj., having all its sails set
Pilot: n., a person who guides a ship into or out of a harbor
Pilot-boat: n., a boat with a tapered bottom, for carrying pilots to and from ships in harbor
Pilot-cloth: n., a thick blue cloth used to make jackets and coats for sailors
Pipe: n., a cask that holds 126 gallons
Pitch: n., a thick black substance made by boiling down tar. It is used to seal the seams of ships, and also as a preservative coating for rope, canvas, wood, and ironwork.
Plug-hole: n., a hole fitted with a plug or stopper, used for draining water from a boat
Pod: n., group
Ponderous: adj., weighty
Poniard: n., a dagger with a slender square or rectangular blade
Poop deck: n., an exposed partial deck built on at the rear of a ship
Portcullis: n., an iron grating suspended in the gateway to a fort
or castle, and lowered to block entry
Portentous: adj., ominous
Promontory: n., a high ridge that juts out into a body of water
Prow: n., the part of the vessel's bow that is above water
Pull: v., to row
Pump: n., bilge pump, used to remove seeped-in water from the very bottom of a ship

Quarter: (a) n., the upper portion of the rear of a ship; (b) n., one leg of an animal's carcass
Quarter-boat: n., a boat hung at the back of the ship, to the rear of the last mast
Quarter-deck: n., the part of the upper deck to the rear of the main mast, usually reserved for the ship's officers, guests, and passengers
Quit: v., to leave

Raise: v., to see, spot
Reef: v., to roll up the sails to reduce the amount of wind they can catch
Reel: v., to sway
Remonstrate: v., to forcefully protest
Renegade: n., a deserter
Resort: v., to go customarily or frequently
Rigging: n., the system of ropes, chains, and tackle used to support and control the sails and spars on a ship
Ring-bolt: n., a bolt made with a ring for passing rope through
Rod: n., distance of 5.5 yards
Rood: n., one-quarter acre, or 40 square rods
Rope-walk: n., a long narrow alley or lane where long strands were laid out prior to being twisted into rope
Rope-yarn: n., a strand from which rope is made
Row-lock: n., an oarlock, a U-shaped swiveling device mounted to the gunwale that holds an oar in place
Royal: n., royal sail, on the mast above the topgallant
Royal yard: n., a pole used to support the top of the sail on the royalmast
Royalmast: n., the small mast immediately above the topgallant mast

Sagacity: n., wisdom
Score: n., twenty
Scud: n., wind-driven mist or rain
Scupper-hole: n., a hole in the side of a ship at deck level to let water run off
Scuttle: n., an opening with a lid in a vessel's deck or side
Scuttle-butt: n., a cask used to hold the day's drinking water
Season-on-the-Line: n., the time of year spent on the Equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean
Seethe: v., to churn and foam the water
Seizing: n., a small rope used to bind
Set sail: v., to raise a sail
Settee: n., a long upholstered seat for more than one person
Seventy-four: n., a type of sailing warship equipped with 74 guns
Shade: n., a ghost
Sheaf: n., the wheel of a pulley
Sheer: v., to swerve
Sheet: n., a rope used to adjust the angle at which a sail is set in relation to the wind
Sheet home: v., to pull into position
Ship biscuit: n., a hard biscuit made with only flour and water
Shoal: (a) n., large group; (b) n., sandbar
Shrink: v., to avoid
Shroud: n., a set of ropes that run from a ship's mast down to its side, to hold the mast in place
Skipper: n., a captain
Skylark: v., to play tricks
Slew: v., to rotate or turn on an axis
Slouched: adj., with the brim over the face
Smoke: v., to drag by force
Snuff: v., to breathe
Sound: (a) v., dive to a great depth; (b) v., to measure the depth of water
Span: n., a pair yoked or harnessed together
Spar: n., a long round pole used as a mast, yard, boom, or other support for sails or rigging
Speak: v., to communicate with another ship using flags or voice (as opposed to gamming)
Spermaceti: n., the white, waxy substance in the head of a sperm whale
Spile: n., a small wooden peg used for stopping a cask
Spiracle: n., blowhole
Squall: n., a sudden, violent gust of wind or storm
Square sail: n., a sail set perpendicular to the keel of a vessel
Starboard: adj., the part of a vessel that is on the right when one is facing forward
Stave: (a) v., to bash in; (b) n., a length of wood used in making a bucket or barrel; (c) n., a verse or stanza
Stay: n., a rope or chain that supports a ship's mast and is attached to a ship's front or back
Steering oar: n., an oversized oar or board used to guide the direction of the boat
Stern: n., the rearmost part of a vessel
Stove: adj., bashed in
Stove boat: n., a boat crushed by a harpooned whale's thrashing tail
Stun'sail: n., studding sail, an extra sail used in light to moderate winds
Subaltern: n., subordinate
Sublimity: n., nobility
Succor: v., to help
Sufferable: adj., tolerable
Suffuse: v., to spread out
Sullen: adj., slow-moving
Sultry: adj., hot and humid
Sunder: v., to break into parts
Surmise: n., a supposition without evidence to support it
Swart: adj., dark-skinned

Tackle: n., an assembly of rope and pulleys used to lift heavy loads
Taffrail: n., the rail around the stern of a vessel
Tallow: n., the fat of cows or sheep, which was used to make smoky and bad-smelling candles
Tandem: n., a line of boats or horses, one behind another
Tarpaulin: n., waterproofed canvas, or a hat made out of this material
Terrific: adj., causing fear
T'gallant-mast: n., the topgallant mast, that is, the mast above the topmast
Thews: n., muscles
Thigh-board: n., a structural board in the bow of a whaleboat
Tierce: n., a cask that holds 42 gallons
Tiller: n., a horizontal bar used like a lever for steering a boat
Timber head: n., the top end of a mast
Tinker: n., someone who travels around making repairs to metal utensils
Top-gallant: n., the mast above the topmast
Top-maul: n., a heavy hammer with a steel or wooden head
Tophet: n., a location near Jerusalem where, according to the Bible, Canaanites sacrificed children by burning them alive. Also, hell itself
Topsail: n., a square sail set above the lowest sail on the mast
Touching: adj., regarding
Train oil: n., oil made from whale blubber
Transom: n., the flat part of the hull at the rear of a ship, which can be used as a bench
Treat: v., to write
Trencher: n., a wooden platter
Truck: n., a small piece of wood placed at the top of a mast, with holes for running ropes through
Trumpet: n., megaphone
Try-pots: n., large cauldrons on whaleships used to render the oil in whale blubber
Tub: n., wooden tub in which the rope of a harpoon is coiled for quick release
Tun: n., barrel that holds 252 gallons
Turn to: v., to begin work
Twain: n., two
Twelvemonth: n., year
Twig: v., to see or notice
Tyro: n., newbie

Unwarrantable: adj., unjustifiable
Usage: n., customary behavior

Van: n., vanguard, the foremost part of a company of soldiers on the move
Verdure: n., greenery
Vernal: adj., springlike
Vesture: n., clothing
Vicissitude: n., a change of circumstance or fortune

Waist: n., the middle of the upper deck on a vessel
Watch: n., a period of time (usually four hours) when a group of crew members is on duty
Weather: adj., in the direction the wind is blowing from
Weather-bow: n., the side of a vessel's bow upon which the wind is blowing
Weltering: adj., rolling, tossing about
Whaleman: n., whaling ship
Whale-pike: n., a long pointed tool used for moving blubber on a ship's deck
Whelm: v., to engulf, submerge
White-ash: n., a whaleboat oar, made of white ash wood
Wight: n., a person or type of person
Windlass: n., a horizontal revolving spool used for hoisting heavy loads
Windward: n., the direction the wind is blowing from
Without: adj., outside

Yard: n., a long tapering pole used to support and spread the top of a square sail
Yardarm: n., either end of a yard
Yaw: v., to swerve momentarily off-course