- To direct the movements of a vessel underway.
Probably earlier than the 17th century. From Old French, conduire, meaning to conduct. Earlier roots in Anglo-Saxon, connan, to control, and Latin, conducere, to conduct.
Also spelled “conn” or “cond.” The officer doing the conning is said to “at the conn” or to “have the conn.” Obviously, this carries a lot of responsibility with it. Basically, the officer at the conn needs to make sure the vessel doesn’t crash into anything. This includes any other relevant information, such as position, course, speed, wind, etc.. Having the conn can also refer to someone being in control of something, not necessarily a vessel. The conn is not a formal crew position, but simply refers to whoever is currently directing the ship/operations.
For example, the Captain might say, “I’m going below. The XO has the conn.” The XO would reply, “Aye, Sir. I have the conn.”
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport Museum.