Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat

Not Enough Room to Swing a Cat

Naval slang and its everyday usage

General Military
  • Author: Martin Robson
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 25 Jan 2018
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As the crow flies'', ''chunder'', ''cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey'', ''three sheets to the wind'' - many terms like these are used in everyday English language conversation and writing. But how many landlubbers know that they derive from naval slang or know what the phrase originally referred to? The navy has helped to shape modern society. The navy is famous for its traditions, quirks and nuances. It is disinctly different to wider society and nowhere is this more evident than in language. The naval community once had its own language, incomprehensible to anyone who was not a sailor, which described and explained his unique world. But on shore leave these men introduced their language to the populations of bustling ports and harbours and the usage slowly spread inland. Today through the mediums of film, television and music, naval slang has been brought to the wider public and has become fully integrated into the English language to point where many phrases are used by people who have no concept of their meaning. Presenting terminology thematically, this book provides a compilation of naval slang throughout the world, from terms relating to ship-handling and seamanship through to food and drink, discipline and insults. The text is further enhanced with original black line drawings that illustrate certain technical terms, such as ''splice the mainbrace''.

Biographical Note

Dr Martin Robson is a Lecturer at the Defence Studies Department, King's College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. He is the author of several works of military, aviation and naval history. Dr Robson delivers regular battlefield lectures and on the ground perspectives on D-Day and the fighting in Normandy as part of the UK Staff College Battlefield Tours to key D-Day sites including Omaha Beach, Sword Beach, Arromanches, Pegasus Bridge and Pointe du Hoc all of which provides him with a remarkable knowledge of D-Day objects, their significance and their contemporary context.
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