Nautical Language in 21st Century

Nautical Language in 21st Century

Nautical language has influenced our modern day vocabulary more than we know. It is fascinating to discover just how many nautical words and phrases have been adopted over the centuries

Humanities close relationship with the sea has had a major influence on the words and expressions we use today.

The Western world has its roots in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. From as far back as the first Phoenician and Greek cultures (over 2,000 years ago) the Sea has not only been essential for basic survival, but in maintaining economic and social ties for the surrounding communities.

Many familiar words and phrases unexpectedly originate from this relationship with the sea; from commonly used words like ‘overwhelm’ – meaning to capsize and casual’ that was used to describe the wages paid to seamen between their regular payments.

The English language also gained many terms during the 18th and 19th centuries when British naval and merchant ships travelled the seas.

Expressions such as ‘square meal’ which refers to the tray food consumed on early British warships. Phrases like please stand by’ is an expression derived from the command given to sailors when they need to be ready.

Over the centuries new words and phrases have entered into our language from this continuous tie to our planets oceans. See just some of our examples below!

Nautical Language

If you are interested in learning more historical terms coined through humanities relationship with the sea follow the link below.
Old School Terms
Port and Starboard

Port is the nautical term for left and starboard means right. Originally the words come from the old sailing ships that did not have a rudder and were steered using a board on the right side which became known as the “steerboard” side, the other side of the vessel was called the port side as the boat was docked on this side so as to not interfere with the steering board.

Albatross Around One’s Neck

An Albatross is a large and long-winged seabird of the Southern Hemisphere capable of long flights. It was believed among seamen that albatrosses embodied the souls of dead sailors and it was considered unlucky to kill one.


From the 17th century, it described the Spanish custom of hoisting false flags to deceive (bamboozle) enemies. Today if one intentionally deceives someone, they are said to have bamboozled them.

Combing the Cat

When flogging a seaman, “combing the cat” meant to run fingers through the cat-o’-nine-tails after each stroke to separate the strands in preparation for the next stroke.

Whole Nine Yards

This expression means everything or all encompassing. The expression comes from the old square-rigged sailing vessels that had three masts with three yards of sails on each.  The whole nine yards meant all sails were up.


21st Century
Shipper / Consignor: 

An individual or firm that sends freight. A freight originator.


A transportation system design in which large hub terminals are used for freight consolidation. Medium-volume services serve the spoke-to-hub collection and hub-to-spoke distribution tasks. Large-volume services are operated in the hub-top-hub markets. In most systems, all outbound/inbound freight for a spoke uses the same hub, and thus larger shipment sizes are realised. Many transportation systems oriented in this way.


A portion of a transportation trip in which no freight is conveyed; an empty move. Transportation equipment is often dead-headed because of imbalances in supply and demand. For example, many more containers are shipped from Asia to North America than in reverse; empty containers are therefore dead-headed back to Asia.

Tramp Shipping: 

An ocean carrier company operating vessels not on regular runs or schedules. They call at any port where cargo may be available. Sometimes used for bulk cargo shipping.

Breakbulk Cargo: 

Cargo in-between bulk and containerised, that must be handled piece-by-piece by terminal workers (stevedores). Often stored in bags or boxes and stacked onto pallets. Smaller lift equipment (forklifts, small cranes) used than for containerised cargo, but more labour intensive.


Logistics Glossary

If you are interested in reading more about the language of logistics follow this link.
5 Heavy Transport Projects Standing on Our Heads

5 Heavy Transport Projects Standing on Our Heads

At Tuscor Lloyds we know heavy transport projects are not for the faint of heart. Together with our network of heavy haulage specialists we have completed some impressive projects around the globe. To celebrate our new campaign we’re talking you through some of the biggest, heaviest pieces we have ever shipped, standing on our heads…

UK to Mexico – 125 tonnes

Cargo: Turbo Generator Parts
Cargo Weight: 2 pieces at 62.5 tonnes each = 125 tonnes
Cargo Origin: UK
Cargo Destination: Mexico
Special Requirements: Heavy duty swivel hook crane (70t capacity), Mafi Trailers, Flat rack Containers

This consignment totalled 125 tonnes. That’s the equivalent of 10 double Decker busses but to Tuscor Lloyds it’s child’s play. The wooden cases contained turbo-generator parts, with both items shipped as separate breakbulk and out of gauge consignments. The weight of the cargoes (62.5 tons each) required them to be loaded onto mafi trailers (from the low loaders) using ship/shore cranes. Just some of the specialist equipment required in heavy transport logistics.

Turbo Generator Heavy Transport
Heavy Transport Cable Reel to Canada

UK to Canada – 230 tonnes

Cargo Origin: Liverpool, UK
Cargo Destination: Halifax, Canada
Industry: Oil & Gas
Service: RORO
Cargo: Steel Wire Reel

This 230 ton consignment for one of our regular clients in the oil and gas industry consisted of 5 cable reels collected from Liverpool, UK and delivered to Halifax, Canada. With dimensions of 3 x 2.6 x 3.1 meters and a weight of 46 tons each it was no small feat securing the cargo for smooth sailing.

China to UK – 260 Tonnes

Cargo description: Biomass Boiler
Cargo Weight: 260 tonnes in total
Cargo origin: Changsha, Hunan Province China
Cargo Destination: UK
Special Requirements: Floating crane, Flat rack containers, OOG Permits, split shipment, river barge.

Having worked on similar jobs from mainland China, Tuscor Lloyds were quickly recommended for the project, which was to be the first of many throughout the summer. The boiler and components were consolidated into 46 pieces weighing 260 tonnes in total (the equivalent of 130 average sized cars or 52 African elephants.) The pieces consisted of one 83 ton Breakbulk item at 15 metres in length as well as 7 x flat rack containers holding the remaining Out of Gauge Cargo.

Heavy Transport Port of Felixstowe
Heavy transport Flat rack Container

Germany to Mexico – 368 Tons

Cargo description: Flexographic printing machine.
Cargo Weight: 368 tons
Cargo origin: Bielefeld, Germany
Cargo Destination: Veracruz, Mexico
Special Requirements: Flat rack containers, police escort, heavy lift crane.

Tuscor Lloyds were called in to organise this large consignment from the UK to Veracruz, Mexico. The project consisted of involved transporting 27 standard shipping containers and 10 flat rack containers loaded with out of gauge and break bulk cargo to Veracruz, Mexico.

Aqaba to Felixstowe – 475 Tonnes

Cargo: Trucks, Land rovers, Generators, Fuel Truck, Support Equipment
Cargo Weight: 475 tonnes approx.
Cargo Origin: Aqaba, Jordan
Cargo Destination: Feslixstowe, UK
Special Requirements: Hazardous Cargo, Escort required in Jordan due to Military cargoes.

Tuscor Lloyds projects team moved a total of 475 tonnes of support equipment from Aqaba, Jordan to Felixstowe, England. The cargo included a variety of trucks, generators and land rovers, as well as some of the shippers own containers. In notoriously difficult terrain the teams experience was called upon to ensure smooth transit on land and great coordination for the transhipment arrangements.

Shipping Aqaba to Felixstowe

At Tuscor Lloyds we have the knowledge to piece together any shipment.

Request a free quote today and discover how we can strengthen your supply chain.