Batten Down the Hatches for a Ruby Release – Mutiny of the Heart

In honor of my latest pirate adventure MUTINY OF THE HEART which was released last week, I thought I’d talk sailor shop, literally. Did you know that many of the idioms and words we speak today are of nautical origin? Granted, some of these phrases are disputable among etymologists, but their seafaring origins are plausible. And interesting, if not romantic in the literary sense.

  • Turn a Blind Eye – ignore. Credited to Admiral Horatio Nelson. When things looked bleak for the British during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, his superior signaled a flag of retreat. Nelson was notified of the banner, but he raised his spyglass to his blind eye and commented he didn’t see the flag. He continued to fight and within the hour won the battle. Now THAT is the stuff heroes are made of.
  • Clean Bill of Health – to be well and healthy. This was a paper signed by presumably a doctor or other authority stating the vessel’s passenger was free from disease or illness. No one wants the spread of nasty or fatal cooties in the close confines of a ship.
  • Doldrums (in the) – emotionally down. Sailing vessels relied on winds, namely trade winds in the northern and southern hemispheres. But between these hemispheres near the equator, the winds are so calm, ships can get stuck out there for long periods of time going virtually nowhere. Think of how hot and crabby you’d become floating around with nothing to do.
  • masts of a historic sailing vesselHazing – humiliating and/or harassment of a newbie to an organization. Unpleasant and unnecessary work to assert authority and make crews manageable and humble. Wonder if I could haze my kids. Hmm…
  • Keel over – die. A keel is the center structural beam on the ship’s hull. Quite frankly, if a ship capsizes, there is a pretty good chance those on board are going to drown.
  • Loose Cannon – unpredictable/uncontrollable person. If a gun breaks loose from the ropes securing it in place during rough seas, it rolls around on deck becoming very dangerous and causing damage. I’ve been known to break free from my…oh, nevermind.
  • Pipe Down – to be quiet. An officer or boatswain blows his pipe when it was time for the above-deck shift to below deck to retire. (Often heard by parents who are ready to haze unruly children.)
  • Rummage Sale – the sale of secondhand items. Rummage is to stow and arrange cargo in a ship’s hold. Items that may have been damaged in route are sold in a rummage sale. Admit it, you love a good rummage sale. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.
  • Skyscraper – tall building. This was a small sail at the top of a mast. Because a ship needs just one more sail. I’m wondering if this was sail envy.
  • Slush Fund – money set aside for corrupt activities or entertainment (sometimes that is one and the same). Food goes rancid pretty fast without proper storage and this posed a problem for sailing ships on lengthy voyages. Salted meats lasted longer. These meats were kept in barrels, and when the food was gone, slushy fats and salt were left over in the bottom. Ewww. The ship’s cook would sell this slop in port to candle makers and tanneries, keeping the money for himself or the crew.
  • Under the Weather – ill. There are always crewmen standing watch for land, other vessels and dangers in the water. The sailor on the weather side of the bow taking the beating from the ocean waves and spray is said to be under the weather. So much for that clean bill of health.

There are many more sayings and terms that have briny beginnings. Can you name one?


Mutiny of the Heart is available now.


Navigating the high seas as the female captain of a pirate ship means always being on your guard—especially when one takes a temptingly handsome slave on board.

Captain Joelle Quint believes the slave claiming to be a cartographer can help her decipher the map her father left her when she was a child. She’s spent years trying to unlock its truths, hoping that it holds the answers to a dark family secret.

Sloan Ricker has no intention of remaining captive. When the fiery, red-headed captain offers him his freedom in exchange for solving her map, what begins as an opportunity to escape becomes a struggle to make the beautiful, intriguing Joelle his mistress in more ways than one.

Amidst a battle with the Royal Navy and a first mate’s jealousy, Joelle also fights her growing lust. And as much as he’d like to deny it, Ricker’s desire for Joelle has overcome his initial disdain. To get the answers, independence and love that they both long for, Joelle and Ricker must relinquish control to each other…or die trying.


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20 responses to “Batten Down the Hatches for a Ruby Release – Mutiny of the Heart”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Ooh, shiver me timbers!! (Is that genuinely nautical, or just some cheesy Hollywood pirate-ism?), a female pirate captain and handsome slave!! That’s some fabulous Old Skool deliciousness you’ve got going on there! Can’t wait!

    Oh, and I know another nautical term that passed into common use: “at loggerheads.” Now it means to be in a fight with another stubborn person, but a loggerhead was originally a long pole use for stirring pitch onboard ships. Sailors who had a beef with one another would sometimes fight with them to settle things.

    • jbrayweber says:

      Shiver me timbers is more likely a literary creation. 🙂

      Being at loggerheads would be messy…and dangerous, since the pitch would be hot enough to cause injury (but without setting the ship on fire).

      Awesome, Elisa! And thanks for playing alone!

  2. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Congratulations on the release–and thank you for the etymology lesson. I love stuff like that.

  3. Tamara Hogan says:

    What interesting information, Jenn! I used “even keel” in a comment here just yesterday, having only vague knowledge of the term’s origin.

    Congratulations on your release! As someone who had a lot of difficulty finding a picture of a long-haired, blond cover hero for TEMPT ME, your Sloan looks nummy. 😉

    • jbrayweber says:

      Yup! A boat that sails upright is on an even keel.

      My publisher did an awesome job on Sloan. I can’t believe how hard it is to not only find a long(ish)-haired hero, but a blonde one. I’m very, very happy with the cover. 😀

      Thanks, Tammy!

  4. Awesome. This sailer approves. I may have to bust out my Blue-Jacket’s manual and see if I can find any you haven’t heard of before. 🙂 I do recall snack machines/junk food being called guidunk (pronounced ghe-dunk) That’s a good one for you to research the origins. I love these posts. Great job! I bought Mutiny last night and can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    • jbrayweber says:

      I could be wrong, Judy, but I think guidunk (gedunk) is a 21st century term, from the early 1900’s. I really do like researching nautical etymology. 😀

      Thanks for your undying support! And thanks for serving our country, my spunky retired Navy girl.

  5. Vivi Andrews says:

    Yarr! Happy release, Jenn! I do love a swashbuckling tale, especially with a female captain! Congrats on the shiny new book! 😀

  6. Liz Talley says:


    I know all day I will be thinking about nautical sayings, but right now, I got nothing. I’ll come back if I can think of a few.

    Great lesson I found fascinating!


  7. Rita Henuber says:

    Super congrats on the new book. Thanks for the sayings.
    Wishing you many sales

  8. Diana Layne says:

    Fun post, and sounds like another great read! Good luck!

  9. Gwyn says:

    Sorry so late, Jenn. Getting the skuttlebutt comes to mind as far as nautically inspired phrases. Also something that most folks use to predict the weather: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.

    What a fun post. I’m always game to learn some etymology.

    Best of luck with your new release!

  10. Ahoy there, Jenn! Congratulations on the release of Mutiny of the Heart! So *that’s* what “pipe down” means — I had no idea!

    Many happy sales to you.


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