Sailor Speak of the Week – Lee



  • On the side of any object that is away from the directional force of the wind.


14th century. From the Old Saxon word, lee, or the Old Norse, hle, possibly both. Both with the same meaning.


Lee can also refer to downwind objects, as well. For example, the lee shore. Ships are in danger of being driven onto a lee shore if they don’t have enough “leeway,” the lateral distance a vessel is displaced from its course by the wind, to maneuver.


King, D., Hattendorf, J.B, & Estes, J.W. (1997). A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (2nd Ed.). Owl Books.

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

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