Pirate Words and Phrases That Arrgh Up to Pirate Code

Pirate slang words with a parrot

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated on September 19 each year by swashbucklers and scallywags alike. First created by John Baur and Mark Summers of Albany, Oregon in 1995, Talk Like a Pirate Day is an excellent opportunity to practice pirate words and terminology, including pirate slang words, with your fellow high seas enthusiasts. Get ye up to speed with pirate phrases by referencing our handy guide. Savvy?

13 Popular Pirate Words for Talk Like a Pirate Day

Yo ho ho! Plenty of pirate words for ye! As it turns out, many pirate terms are great for word games too. Refer to our Scrabble dictionary and Words With Friends word list, as relevant, for the corresponding point values for each of these pirate slang words. 

Popular pirate wordsPopular pirate words
  • Ahoy: A common greeting in pirate speak

  • Avast: In pirate lingo, “avast” tells someone to stop because you have something to say

  • Bombarded: To be drunk, from an 8 pint leather jug called a bombard  

  • Booty: One of the many words for treasure and riches, like loot 

  • Castoffs: Old clothes, ropes and other gear left on shore before setting off to sea

  • Doubloon: Referring to money in general, from a Spanish gold coin worth approximately four Spanish dollars 

  • Grog: Almost any alcoholic drink in pirate jargon, from the watered-down rum that Admiral Edward Vernon (Old Grogam) created in 1740

  • Hornswoggle: To cheat, trick or deceive in order to best someone

  • Landlubber: Someone who is not accustomed to life at sea, seen as clumsy or stupid by experienced seafaring pirates 

  • Pillage: To take and steal anything from a captured vessel, aside from the recognized shared booty 

  • Scallywag: A rascal, a pirate slang word for someone who is mischievous but amusing or funny 

  • Scurvy: A common disease among seafarers caused by a vitamin C deficiency and malnutrition, resulting in open wounds, new sores, and swelling 

  • Sea dog: Pirate terminology for someone with a lot of experience at sea 

17 Fun Pirate Phrases to Cut Loose

Avast ye! Give no quarter with these pirate phrases. One set of pirate words is good. Understanding a bounty of popular pirate phrases could save you from walking the plank! Get ready for Talk Like a Pirate Day, or any day, by committing these common pirate expressions to memory, matey. 

Fun pirate phrasesFun pirate phrases
  • Above board: Legitimate, as illicit goods and criminals were kept below deck to avoid being detected or seen

  • Blow me down: A pirate expression to indicate shock or surprise 

  • Chock-a-block: Filled with a lot of people

  • Cut loose: To make a quick departure or escape by cutting the anchor cable rather than pulling it on board

  • Dead men tell no tales: A pirate phrase meant to encourage killing prisoners and captives so they couldn’t act as witnesses to pirate acts

  • Down the hatch: An expression uttered before consuming alcohol, referring to putting cargo in the hold of a ship

  • Footloose and fancy free: To be free of responsibility, from a sail with an untied bottom edge

  • Give a wide berth: To avoid something, from anchoring far away from another ship

  • Give no quarter: Pirate words for treating someone harshly, to give no mercy and take no prisoners  

  • Kick the bucket: To die, from kicking the bucket out from under the feet of someone who’s about to be hanged

  • Land ho: An expression screamed out by a lookout when they see land on the horizon 

  • Pull your finger out: To stop hesitating and just do something, from removing the finger from the powder hole of a cannon

  • Scrape the bottom of the barrel: To be reduced to using something or someone of the poorest quality, from scraping the greasy fat from the bottom of pork-filled barrels 

  • Shiver me timbers: A fictional expression of shock or surprise 

  • Talk bilge: To speak nonsense

  • Walk the plank: When a blindfolded prisoner walked off the plank on a ship to their watery graves 

  • Yo-ho-ho: One of many fictional pirate greetings 

18 Essential Pirate Terms to Get Your Sea Legs

Batten down the hatches with more pirate terminology! Trying to find words and what they mean to drunken sailors and sea dogs? Here are some pirate terms to keep you out of Davy Jones’ locker. 

Essential pirate termsEssential pirate terms
  • Buccaneer: Another word for a pirate, especially one who is daring and reckless 

  • Crack on: Making good speed while on the ship, from the cracking noise made by sails and ropes

  • Cutlass: The quintessential pirate sword with a single, slightly curved edge and a basket-shaped guard

  • Davy Jones’ locker: The deep sea where dead souls are collected by an evil spirit named Davy Jones

  • Deep six: To get rid of something, from throwing things overboard into waters deeper than six fathoms (36 feet)

  • Dressing down: To be reprimanded, scolded or chastised for unsatisfactory performance 

  • Jolly Roger: A flag, usually with skull and crossbones, identifying a pirate ship before and during a battle 

  • Keel: The bottom-most longitudinal structure on which a ship’s hull is built; to keel over is to capsize 

  • Lily-livered: Pirate slang words for someone who is cowardly or timid 

  • Marooned: To be abandoned, usually on a small uninhabited island, with no help or supplies

  • Mate: A fellow crew member; also a rank on the ship, as in first mate

  • Mutiny: A revolt or uprising against an established authority, like the ship’s captain 

  • Old salt: Not just pirate terminology, but referring to any sailor with years of experience

  • Peg leg: Someone who has lost part of their leg and replaced it with a wooden peg, Long John Silver of Treasure Island is a famous example 

  • Picaroon: A slang term for a pirate, privateer, or buccaneer 

  • Privateer: A ship and its crew that have been commissioned by a government

  • Poop deck: The deck on the roof of the cabin at the back of a pirate ship 

  • Rigging: The nautical term for all the sails, masts, booms, lines and other components of a sailing vessel 

And if you’re ever looking for even more pirate words and lingo, there’s yet another list of pirate terms at YourDictionary. You’ll be swashbuckling with the best of them in no time.  

Talk Like a Pirate Day for Landlubbers 

Keeping a list of pirate words and pirate phrases can act like a treasure map. Navigate the pirate slang seas with the greatest of ease and you won’t be tasked with scrubbing the poop deck on Talk Like a Pirate Day. Keep the slang terminology going! From modern rap words to funny British insults, we continue to play with language as much as we play our favorite word games! 

Michael Kwan is a professional writer and editor with over 16 years of experience. Fueled by caffeine and WiFi, he's no stranger to word games and dad jokes.


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