How to be Speakin’ Pirate-Like

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Startin’ Rules

Double up on all your adjectives and you’ll be bountifully bombastic with your phrasing. Pirates never speak of “a big ship”, they call it a “great, grand ship!” They never say never, they say “No nay ne’er!”

Drop all your “g”‘s when you speak and you’ll get words like “rowin'”, “sailin'” and “fightin'”. Dropping all of your “v”‘s will get you words like “ne’er”, “e’er” and “o’er”.

Instead of saying “I am”, sailors say, “I be”. Instead of saying “You are”, sailors say, “You be”. Instead of saying, “They are”, sailors say, “They be”. Ne’er speak in anythin’ but the present tense!

Hints an’ Tips

If it be helpin’, start yer sentence wi’ a “Arr, me hearty,” in a deep, throaty voice – ye’ll find that the rest be comin’ much easier.


Ahoy: Hey!

Avast: Stop!

Aye: Yes

Black spot: to be ‘placin’ the black spot’ be markin’ someone for death.

Booty: treasure

Buccanneer: a pirate who be answerin’ to no man or blasted government.

By the Powers!: an exclamation, uttered by Long John Silver in Treasure Island!

Cat o’ nine tails: whip for floggin’ mutineers

Corsair: a pirate who be makin’ his berth in the Med-…Medi-…that sea ‘tween Spain and Africa, aye!

Davy Jones’ Locker: the bottom o’ the sea, where the souls of dead men lie

Doubloons: pieces of gold…

Fiddlers Green: the private heaven where pirates be goin’ when they die.

Furner: a ship which be yer own, not one ye steal an’ plunder.

Gentlemen o’ fortune: a slightly more positive term fer pirates!

Go on the account: to embark on a piratical cruise

Grog: A pirate’s favorite drink.

Jack: a flag or a sailor

Jolly Roger: the skull and crossbones, the pirate flag!

Keelhaul: a truly vicious punishment where a scurvy dog be tied to a rope and dragged along the barnacle-encrusted bottom of a ship. They not be survivin’ this.

Landlubber: “Land-lover,” someone not used to life onboard a ship.

Lass: A woman.

Lily-livered: faint o’ heart

Loaded to the Gunwales (pron. gunnels): drunk

Matey: A shipmate or a friend.

Me hearty: a friend or shipmate.

Me: My.

Pieces o’ eight: pieces o’ silver which can be cut into eights to be givin’ small change.

Privateer: a pirate officially sanctioned by a national power

Scallywag: A bad person. A scoundrel.

Scurvy dog!: a fine insult!

Shiver me timbers!: an exclamation of surprise, to be shouted most loud.

Son of a Biscuit Eater: a derogatory term indicating a bastard son of a sailor!

Sprogs: raw, untrained recruits

Squadron: a group of ten or less warships

Squiffy: a buffoon

Swaggy: a scurvy cur’s ship what ye be intendin’ to loot!

Swashbucklin’: fightin’ and carousin’ on the high seas!

Sweet trade: the career of piracy

Thar: The opposite of “here.”

Walk the plank: this one be bloody obvious.

Wench: a lady, although ye gents not be wantin’ to use this around a lady who be stronger than ye.

Wi’ a wannion: wi’ a curse, or wi’ a vengeance. Boldly, loudly!

Yo-ho-ho: Pirate laughter

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