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Word derivations number 683. 1, July 2007

Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Life and living, Light Fluff.
Tags: , , ,

I heard a cracking word derivation the other day. Apparently in the days of sailing ships when new recruits went up to splice the mainbrace or whatever it is people who worked for people like Nelson used to do, the roll of the ship, being on the end of the mast, so to speak tended to get a bit amplified.

This meant that most of them spent a lot of time at the beginning of a voyage feeling very, very ill. However, they couldn’t leave their posts, since this would be desertion so if the illness became too much and they knew they were going to hurl they would do their best to spray the half digested remnants of their most recent meal over the edge of the ship, rather than onto the deck below. Despite their best efforts not to hit the deck it often did, so out of consideration for their ship mates it became the norm for them to shout out a pre-barf warning.

“Watch out under!” They would yell, before vomiting copiously all over their colleagues below. Gradually the phrase became condensed to one word. “Chunder.”

There you go, people, never let it be said this blog is not educational!



1. markowe - 2, July 2007

Ha, that is great! Like all popular etymologies, you can never quite be sure if someone has just made it up or not!

Must be honest, “chunder” wasn’t used in my area (Essex) and I only heard the term at uni in the early 90’s. It’s a great word though, it’s got that, oh… what’s the word – when words sound like the thing they’re describing?

(man, I HAVE to start spending some time in the UK – my powers of English are deserting me!)

2. babychaos - 2, July 2007

I used to hear it a bit but I come from the coast and port slang is always a bit messed up. I’ve been using slang words all my life which I’ve since discovered to be Glaswegian, Geordie et al…

Like you, I’m not sure if it’s true but it’s a great story!



3. babychaos - 2, July 2007

Damn! Chunder Loo, a 1909 boot polish advertising character whose name later became military rhyming slang for spew!

CF http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-chu1.htm

A great site actually, worth a look! Cobblers. I liked watch out under so much better!



4. Joe Drinker - 2, July 2007


The word that couldn’t sound further from it’s own meaning. Or any other meaning, I guess.


5. Geldoff - 2, July 2007

If you’re interested in etymologies you might like to check out ‘freezing the balls off a brass monkey’ which isn’t at all what it sounds like. 🙂

6. babychaos - 3, July 2007

Ah ha! Now that one, I am pretty sure, is about seafaring… something to do with unfreezing iced up piles of cannonballs no?



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