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Interesting phrases

English is a language rich in expressions and idioms. With a rich seafaring history in Britain and the United States, it is not surprise that many common English phrases are in fact nautical expressions or sailing terms absorbed into the language. Here are some of the phrases that the nautical world has given us.

Batten down the hatches When a sailing ship was expecting bad weather, it would seal all the hatches on the ship that lead to the lower decks or hold with long wooden battens. Thus battening down the hatches became a phrase that meant "preparing for trouble"
Cut of his jib In the Age of Sail, a ship was primarily recognised by its sail plan. This included the particular way the jib was cut and set. Since different countries and regions had different styles, the "cut of someone's jib" became an idiom for the look or demeanour
Taken aback When a ship tries to tack, it has to turn until it points directly into the wind, then carry on turning until the wind is on the other side. If it does not have enough steerage way, it will not make it through the eye of the wind, the sails will fill from the wrong side and reverse the course. This is being "taken aback" in nautical terms. It can also simply mean being stopped by a sudden windshift that fills the sails from the wrong side. The everyday English phrase is figurative, meaning to be stopped by surprise..
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