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From Chuck Weber, your Veteran Service Officer...
|Navy Terminology ► Origins|
Every profession has its own jargon and the Navy is no exception. For the Navy, it's bulkhead, deck and overhead and not wall, floor, and ceiling. Some nautical terminology has found its way into everyday use, and you will find the origins of this and Navy terminology below. More terminology will be added from time to time.
The practice of using bells stems from the days of the sailing ships. Sailors couldn't afford to have their own time pieces and relied on the ship's bells to tell time. The ship's boy kept time by using a half-hour glass. Each time the sand ran out, he would turn the glass over and ring the appropriate number of bells.
Fathom was originally a land measuring term derived from the Anglo-Saxon
word "faetm" meaning to embrace. In those days, most measurements were
based on average size of parts of the body, such as the hand (horses are
still measured this way) or the foot (that's why 12 inches are so
If you are sad and describe yourself as "feeling blue," you are using a phrase coined from a custom among many old deep water sailing ships. If the ship lost the captain or any of the officers during its voyage, she would fly blue flags and have a blue band painted along her entire hull when returning to home port.
The appropriate pronunciation for this word is fo'ksul. The forecastle is the forward part of the main deck. It derives its name from the days of Viking galleys when wooden castles were built on the forward and after parts the main deck from which archers and other fighting men could shoot arrows and throw spears, rocks, etc.
The galley is the kitchen of the ship. The best explanation as to its origin is that it is a corruption of "gallery". Ancient sailors cooked their meals on a brick or stone gallery laid amidships.
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