Sailor Speak of the Week – Topside



  • The deck(s) or sides of a vessel above the waterline.
  • The upper part of a ship’s side (in shipbuilding)


Probably earlier than the 17th century.


Another way of saying someone/something is “on deck.” Another definition I’ve heard is that topside refers to anything on the weatherdeck (or higher) that’s exposed to the elements and not within the confines of the hull. It’s a somewhat generic term.


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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