Sailor Speak of the Week – Poop

The poop deck is highlighted in bright green in the upper left. (Image from



  • The high after-deck on a vessel.


  • To be pooped is to have the sea break over the stern (i.e. over the poop deck) of a vessel.


(First definition) 15th century. Originally from the Latin word puppim, meaning the after section of a ship. Then via French, Italian, and Middle English, poupe. The Latin word puppim came from the word puppis, for a doll or small image. Romans (and those before them) customarily put idols or sacred images on the stern of their vessels. (Second definition) 17th century.


Doesn’t deal with fecal matter or the act of defecation, despite what some have tried to tell me.


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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