Naval slang words and phrases are known as “Jackspeak”, and a collection of these has just been published.

It’s surprising how many of slang phrases have made it into modern English, including “running the gauntlet”. For the past 40 years one man has been collecting the words and phrases coined by the Royal Navy, which have been published in a new book. Rick Jolly OBE is a former Surgeon Captain in the Royal Marines who served in the Falklands War and was decorated by both the British and Argentineans for his service.

His years on board ship, both in the marines and later on cruise liners, have given him a passion for slang.

Part of its charm, he feels, comes from its exclusivity, because the terminology used is only understood by fellow naval comrades.

“For instance, this description of a crusty old sailor’s toothache needs some nautical knowledge, but then has a perfect and startling clarity: ‘Tis from the aftermost grinder aloft on the starboard side…’,” he says.

He believes the humour of nautical slang is an essential coping strategy for people dealing with the multiple uncertainties and dangers of war.

“During my own 25 years in a dark blue uniform, I had several opportunities to confirm that fact,” he explains.

“In addition, as a direct result of my misunderstanding of a term used by one of my Royal Marine patients, I set out in 1971 to make a new collection of slang terms.

“From the start, I tried to take each word or phrase in context, giving an example of its usage as well as a definition.” (Source: BBC News)

Some examples of Jackspeak:

“Green Death” – 3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines
“Snotty” – midshipman
“Order of the Golden Toecap” – redundancy
“Whitehall Puzzle Palace” – Ministry of Defence