Sailor Speak of the Week – Norwegian Steam

Definition

Noun

  • (Slang). The sailor’s term for “elbow grease.”

Origin

Probably the 19th century.

Comments

Said to sailors when handling heavy gear without the use of equipment or machinery. What it has to do with Norwegians, I have no idea. Presumably, they are very hardy people who don’t believe in the comforts that modern machines, such as steam engines, bring us and subsequently view all non-Scandanavian sailors as soft layabouts.

References

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

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