Sailor Speak of the Week – Davy Jones’s Locker

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Definition

Noun/Idiom

  • (Slang) AKA Davy Jones. The bottom of the sea.

Origin

Unknown, but possibly from the 17th or 18th Century. Possibly an invention of West Indian sailors or a corruption of Devil Jonah/Duffy Jonah (Duffy being a British West Indian word for devil).

Comments

Davy Jones is the legendary evil spirit of the sea. Use of the term mostly applies to death by drowning or the sinking of a ship. (i.e. “being sent down to Davy Jones’s Locker”).

Davy Jones is not to be confused with Poseidon/Neptune who is the mythical god of the sea. Also not to be confused with the character from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films who captains the Flying Dutchman.

References

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

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