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Three Sheets To The Wind Sailing Origins

Sister Patricia Marie in San Antonio, Texas, wonders why we use three sheets to the wind to describe someone who is inebriated. In nautical terminology, some of the ropes, or lines, attached to the corner of a sail are called sheets. If three of...

Sailing Slang and Jargon

After hanging out with San Diego sailing enthusiasts, Martha picked up several bits of slang and jargon. Catenary describes the desirable curve of an anchor chain, from Latin catena, meaning “chain.” A chain that is not pulled up...

Etymology of Verb Reef

To reef something, means to “tug hard” or “push vigorously,” as you might with a window that’s stuck. It comes from the sailing term reef, which refers to an action used to make a sail smaller. This is part of a...

By And Large

The idiom by and large, an idiom commonly known to mean “in general,” actually combines two sailing terms. To sail by means you’re sailing into the wind. To sail large, means that you have the wind more or less at your back...

Throw the House Out the Window

Buenos! In this week’s archive edition, we consider alternatives to the word “retirement.” We also discuss “swan song,” “bike-shedding,” “tohubohu,” “criteria,” and how to pronounce...

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