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Pirate Dictionary





Pirates are always popular. From children's stories like Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson to classic swashbuckling films with Errol Flynn, or the recent Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies, pirates fascinate and captivate. They also have their own way of talking, and live in a world very different from our own. That's where this dictionary comes in. Here you'll find all the common words and phrases pirates used, and the stories of many famous pirates too.

A E I K P Q R S T U W X Y Z


pass box
A container of shot and a gunpowder charge.

piece of eight
Spanish silver pesos, with $1.00 in the American colonies and, after 1776, the United States.

pirate
From the Latin pirata, which comes from the ancient Greek peiran, meaning “to attack.” Also, the old Norse word Viking means pirate, particularly sea pirate. Pirates came from all walks of life, including wealthy merchants, freed slaves, and even women. They tended to live fast and die young, as did Blackbeard. Others pillaged the seas for decades, amassing fleets and fortunes in booty. A few, like Henry Morgan, even became publicly famous and were knighted.

pistol
The standard hand firearm of pirates, who often carried three in a “brace” to avoid having to reload.

poop deck
The aftermost and highest deck of a ship, often above the captain’s quarters.

port
The left side of a ship when facing the bow. Probably so named because that side of a ship was the one from one a port was traditionally entered. If remembering port from starboard poses a problem, use the simple idea that port has the same number of letters as left.

Port Royal
An English port on the island of Jamaica, by 1660, five years after the British took it from Spain, it had become a booming pirate town. It was known as a place of corruption and debauchery, and when it was almost entirely wiped out by an earthquake at the end of the century, the common view that that was an act of Divine Retribution. The city of this name depicted in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies is fictional in virtually every way.

port tack
A tack in which the wind is coming across the port side and toward the starboard side of the ship.

priming quill
The fuse used to ignite the gunpowder in a gun.


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