- A loose or unsecured line.
- A frayed end of a line or cloth.
Probably earlier than the 18th century. English.
Supposedly an old British term for the low regard they had of the Irish. In modern times, Irish pennants are a pain in the butt, especially when it comes to uniform inspections. You took all that time to prepare it or sew something on, and then you have to carefully look at the seams to make sure that there are no frayed ends sticking out. Use a lighter to burn them off or risk getting a lecture from someone who outranks you on why your sloppiness and lack of attention to little details is endangering the entire ship.
Come to think of it, this could be the reason why I can’t stand the whole ripped jeans fashion trend. I can’t believe that people actually spend money to make themselves look like slobs. When my clothes get damaged beyond repair, that’s usually when I start wearing them only when I’m doing yard work, painting, or car maintenance.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.