Sailor Speak of the Week – Flotsam



  • Objects that float from a sunken vessel. (Contrast with Jetsam)


17th century Anglo-French word, floteson, derived from floter, to float. Also Old English, flotian.


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

Flotsam. (2020). In Retrieved from

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