Arrr! It Be Time to Learn Yer Pirate Lingo!

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Ahoy, mateys, it’s that time of year again – International Talk Like a Pirate Day! That’s right, it’s the official holiday of aspiring buccaneers both wide and far, and on the Outer Banks we love nothing more than a good excuse to make like Blackbeard (or Anne Bonny) and celebrate our area’s fine heritage by kicking back with some grog and singing a sea chantey or two (or several dozen, depending on how strong that grog be, ye hear?).

But for all you landlubbers out there who might not yet be well versed in the pirate life, it may be time for a crash course on using the distinguished piratical vernacular of old. While eye patches and peg legs are optional, knowing the lingo is the only way to advance from swabber to swashbuckler in the eye of your mates…and just might save your hide if anyone dares call you a lily-livered bilge rat (because around here, them be fightin’ words!).

The Basics:

Ahoy – Hello (Sometimes used in conjunction with “mateys” and/or “hearties” if talking to friends, but feel free to combine it with “scallywag” if you need to address a sworn enemy.)

Avast – Stop (A term not often heard when the barkeep is pouring drinks, but an excellent way to silence your crew – especially if you’re wielding a cutlass.)

Aye – Yes (Used twice in quick succession – “aye, aye” – this term can also denote an emphatic, and respectful, acceptance of orders…as any good captain can attest!)

Arrr – While not quite a word, this low growl of agreement and/or happiness will warm the heart of any leader. (Editor’s note: While it might be tempting to substitute “arrrg” or “arrrgh” for the illustrious “arrr,” please note that the former two growls imply displeasure, and may be grounds for walking the plank if used incorrectly.)

Starting a Fight (Or Ending One):

Knave – A dishonorable man (or boy)

Wench and/or Strumpet – A dishonorable woman (or girl)

Picaroon – A scoundrel

Rapscallion – See above

A Few More Advanced Terms:

Bucko – A good friend

Carouser – An avid drinker

Jolly Roger – A black pirate flag with the emblem of white skull and crossbones on it, which signals an immanent attack (Not recommended if you happen to be on the receiving end.)

Dance the hempen jig – To hang (Definitely not recommended.)

If all else fails, go to Pirate Speak or Post Like a Pirate to translate all of your important declarations (and all your electronic missives, no less) into the joy of pure piratical speech. Yo-ho-ho, ye freebooters, and enjoy the day! ♦

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