When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay: Seafaring Words in Everyday Speech

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Overview

Here's the scuttlebutt: Barge right in and swallow the anchor, and let's chew the fat and splice the main brace till we're three sheets to the wind. Listen, you son of a sea cook, I'm tired of minding my P's and Q's. I tell you, I'm all at sea, and this is the bitter end. Nothing I can do will keep this ship on an even keel. Hell's bells! You think I didn't tell it to the old man? Delivered a broadside, I did, but he just called me a loose cannon. Maybe I caught him between wind and water. Listen, mate. You'd ...

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Overview

Here's the scuttlebutt: Barge right in and swallow the anchor, and let's chew the fat and splice the main brace till we're three sheets to the wind. Listen, you son of a sea cook, I'm tired of minding my P's and Q's. I tell you, I'm all at sea, and this is the bitter end. Nothing I can do will keep this ship on an even keel. Hell's bells! You think I didn't tell it to the old man? Delivered a broadside, I did, but he just called me a loose cannon. Maybe I caught him between wind and water. Listen, mate. You'd better bootleg a bible aboard. We're sailing under false colors, and where we're headed it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. It's Davy Jones's locker I'm talking about. The crew was scraped from the bottom of the barrel. They don't know the ropes, and anyway they're deserting like rats from a sinking ship. It's time to fish or cut bait, mate, or there'll be the devil to pay. No use flogging a dead horse. Let's stay armed to the teeth and look for any port in a storm. There'll be nothing but flotsam and jetsam when this tub goes down the hatch.

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Editorial Reviews

Lakeland Boating
''. . .this guide. . .will 'buoy' your spirits and help you 'learn the ropes.''
Lakeland Boating
&'grave;. . .this guide. . .will 'buoy' your spirits and help you 'learn the ropes.''
Library Journal
Isil's lifelong fascination with sea lore has led her to produce this compendium of nautical metaphors and colloquialisms that have "washed ashore" into modern speech. However, the book doesn't always "run on an even keel," as even Isil herself admits. Some of the entries detail lengthy histories or semantic developments, including examples in literature; others are very brief and to the point, while still others are either apocryphal or sail off on tangents (e.g., one never really learns the origin of "blood is thicker than water," only that the same naval commander who once used it was also implicated in the peculiar history of the Merrimac). A couple of chapters on weather lore and sea legends, myths, and superstitions complete the text. Although this colorful work is occasionally "first rate," enough of its bibliography is still in print to make it a low-priority purchase for reference purposes.-Cathy Sabol, Northern Virginia Community Coll., Manassas
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780070328778
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 154
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Olivia A. Isil was a clinical nurse specialist at Memorial Hospital, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for many years. In addition to pursuing her interest in ships, the sea, and word origins, Olivia has spent the past few years researching the "lost colonists" of Roanoke and the Roanoke Voyages of 1584 to 1587, and publishing her findings.

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Table of Contents

ForewordPrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroductionMetaphors and ColloqualismsWind, Waves, and WeatherYarns of the Sea, Legends, Myths, and SuperstitionsBibliographyIndex

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  • Posted June 18, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Did I Just Read that Right? I read this book first and foremost

    Did I Just Read that Right?

    I read this book first and foremost because of the title. As I picked it up and asked myself "did I just read that right?" As soon as I realized what the book was a bout I was absolutely delighted. I've always been interested in the origins of sayings so I was thrilled to pay for it and head home with my new read.




    I was even more thrilled when I realized that I'd read some of the author's previous work. Olivia A. Isil's account of what happened to teh Roanoke colonies is the 1500s was incredibly insightful and well researched so I found myself hoping that this book would be too. I can't say I was disappointed! Her engaging yet factual writing style comes to life yet again in When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Play.




    I was genuinely surprised reading this book by how many of our everyday sayings have "washed ashore" from sailor life in years passed. "All if a days work", "Son of a gun", and "Above board" were by far my favorite sayings to learn about - though I won't spoil the meaning of them for you.




    The book is split into three sections, "Metaphors and Colloquialisms", "Wind, Waves, and Weather", and "Yarns of the Sea, Legends, Myths, and Superstitions", something which makes it a more manageable read and also gives you the option to flip through it at your leisure. They're all laid our like a dictionary too, something which appealed to me all the more.




    Informative, lighthearted, and entertaining, this book certainly does what it sets out to do and a lot more in my opinion. I recommend it! If it hooks you onto sailing culture like it did me, you are sure to also enjoy What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor? Unexpurgated Sea Chanties.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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