Pirate Dictionary


Aft – The back of the ship.

Ahoy! – ‘Hello’

Arr – Yes/That’s great/I agree

Aye – ‘Yes, definitely.’

Aye Aye – ‘Of course, I’ll do that now.’


Barbary Coast – Mediterranean coast off of North Africa.

Be – Use instead of ‘am’, ‘are’ or ‘is’.

Bilboes – Leg irons attached to the deck of a ship.

Bilge – The dirtiest, smelliest and lowest part of a ship.

Bilge rat – A rat that lives in the dirtiest, smelliest and lowest part of a ship. This is not a nice name to call somebody.

Black Spotted – A person/animal that has had a curse put on them.

Blimey – ‘Wow.’

Booty – Riches that have usually been stolen.

Bounty – A reward, usually paid by the Government for the capture of a criminal.

Buccanneer – Pirates, usually from Hispaniola, who attacked Spanish ships in the Caribbean.

Bucko – Friend


Careen – To clean the hull of a ship.

Cat’o’nine tails – A whip made up of nine knotted ropes and used as punishment.

Convoy – A group of ships traveling together.

Corsair – Pirates in the Mediterranean.

Crow’s Nest – A lookout point at the top of the highest mast of a ship.

Cutlass – A curved sword, often used by sailors.


Davy Jones Locker – The bottom of the ocean.

Deck – The highest floor on a ship.

Deckhand – A person working on a ship, sometimes shortened to ‘hand’.

Dubloon – An old Spainish gold coin.


Fair Winds – ‘Good Luck.’

Flog – To whip.

Fore – Short for ‘forward’.


Galleon – A large, squarish ship used in war or to carry cargo.

Gangway – ‘Clear a path.’

Grog – Rum mixed with water or any kind of alcohol.

Grub – Food


Hands – Crewmen.

Haven – A safe place.

Heave to – To change the direction of the ship so it is facing forwards into the wind.

Hold – The space in a ship where cargo or prisoners were kept.

Hornpipe – A dance or a single reeded musical instrument.

Hornswaggle – To cheat.

Hornswaggler – A person who cheats.

Hulk – The old, dismantled body of a ship, sometimes used as prisons.

Hull – The body of a ship, not including the masts and rigging.


Jack Tar – Sailor

Jolly Roger – The pirate flag - a white skull and crossbones on a black background.


Keel – The main framework of a ship that runs from the front to the back at the bottom of the ship.

Keelhaul – To pull somebody under the keel of a ship. Done by using ropes and often as a form of punishment.


Lad – Young man.

Land ahoy! – ‘I see land.’

Land lubber or lubber – A person who likes being on land, often used as an insult.

Lass – Young woman.

Leg Irons – Wide rings of metal that were attached to each other and fastened around prisoner’s ankles.

Loot – Gold and riches usually stolen.

Lubber or land lubber – A person who likes being on land, often used as an insult.


Marooned – Left alone, usually on a deserted island.

Mast – The upright pole on a ship that the sails and ropes are attached to.

Mate or Matey – Friend

Me – Used instead of ‘my’.

Me beauty – How you would address a pretty lady or something important to you.

Me hearties – Friends

Merchant Ship – A ship carrying cargo to be sold.

Mutiny – When a ship’s crew refuse to follow the captain’s orders.


New World - America


Peg leg – An artificial leg, usually wooden.

Pieces of Eight – An old Spanish silver coin.

Pirate – A ‘robber of the sea’.

Plunder – To steal.

Poop deck – The floor that is also the roof of a cabin built on the upper deck.

Poop cabin – A room built on the top deck of a ship, often the Captain’s.

Port – The left side when facing the ship’s pointy end, also a strong alcoholic drink, and the area of land next to where ships are left when the pirates go ashore.

Privateer – English, French or Dutch sailors allowed by their Government to attack enemy ships.

Prow – The pointy end of a ship.


Quartermaster – The sailor second-in-charge to the Captain.


Rigging – The ropes, mast and sails on a ship.


Salt or Old Salt – Somebody who has been a sailor for a long time.

Sea dog – Somebody who has been a sailor for a long time.

Scurvy – A disease many sailors got because they didn’t eat enough vitamin C.

Scuttle – To make a hole in a ship’s hull or to sink the ship.

Shanty – A seafaring song.

Shipshape – To be neat and tidy.

Shiver me timbers – ‘What a surprise.’

Sink me – ‘What a surprise.’

Smartly – Quickly

Starboard – The right side of the ship (if you are facing the pointed end).

Swab – To clean something or a name for somebody you don’t like very much.

Swag – Gold and riches.


To be three sheets to the wind – To have drunk too much alcohol.

Titivate – To clean up and make neat.


Walk the plank – To be forced to walk along and off the end of a plank that has been placed over the side of a ship.

Weevil – A kind of beetle that can eat your food before you do.

Weigh anchor – To lift the anchor and be ready to sail.


Ye – Used instead of ‘you’.

Yer – Used instead of ‘your’.

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