Sailor Speak of the Week – Jetsam



  • Objects thrown over the side, usually to lighten the vessel. (Contrast with Flotsam)


16th century Anglo-Norman word, getteson. Also Old French, getaison (same meaning).


An easy way to remember the difference between flotsam and jetsam is that jetsam is intentionally thrown overboard, as in, jettisoned. Whereas, flotsam, floats to the surface when the vessel sinks.


Crowell, J. (2003, October 31). Naval Terminology, Jargon and Slang FAQ Part 1 – A through M. Retrieved from

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.


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