Unravelled tarred rope used for packing seams and caulking. A prisoner in the
ship's cells is required to pick two pounds of tarred hemp (or 6 lbs of
tarred sisal) into oakum daily, Sundays excepted, the material to be weighed
in his presence morning and evening.
OFF AND ON
Old naval expression meaning occasionally. The expression originally denoted
keeping close to the shore by sailing off and on it.
IN THE OFFING
Old naval expression meaning near at hand; originally it meant a distance
from the shore - i.e., towards the horizon.
THE OLD MAN
Naval slang name for the Captain or Admiral. It is an expression borrowed
from the Merchant Navy.
THE LAWS OF OLERON
The Laws of Oleron were the first code of laws for naval service; from them
has descended the Naval Discipline Act of today. The Laws seem to have been
instituted in Castile by King Alphonso X in the XIII century derived from the
code founded in the republic of Rhodes and adopted by the Romans and other
maritime powers of the Mediterranean. King Richard Coeur de Lion introduced
these laws into Great Britain, having met them during the Crusades where the
forces included a strong contingent from the island of Oleron. The Laws were
undoubtedly harsh - as they probably needed to be in their day; among them
appears. "If a robber be convicted of theft, boiling pitch shall be poured
over his head and a shower of feathers shaken over to mark him"; a murderer
was to be tied to his victim's corpse and buried alive with it, either in
land or in the sea.
Naval slang - short for opposite number - for the person doing the same job
as one's self in another watch or ship. In the former case, since you
relieved each other (in the old two-watch days), it behoved you to become
friends; thus the word Oppo came to mean Chum. On a two-watch watchbill, the
name of a man's 'opposite number' in the other watch was shewn against his
own name in the opposite column.
OVERCOAT: OILSKIN: RAINCOAT
Until 1954 an overcoat was given to all new entries into the Navy and also an
oilskin to men dressed as seamen (raincoat to men dressed in 'force-&-aft'
rig). On 1st January, 1955, the issue of overcoats and oilskins was stopped.
Naval slang name for the Commanding Officer - much more used in the Merchant
Navy (whence the R.N. borrowed it) than in the R.N.
A old maritime name for a laxative draught consisting of a double dose of
caster oil in a glass of milk; a more modern name for such a laxative would
A morning-after reviver composed of port wine, worcester sauce, red pepper,
mustard and the unbroken yolk of an egg.
Repair to the Site Map page | Repair to the Naval Terms and Slang page