Sailor Speak of the Week – Whip



  • A simple tackle of one or two single blocks.
  • A wrapping at the end of a line to prevent fraying or fagging.


(First definition) Probably earlier than the early 17th century. The origin is obscure. (Second definition) Probably the 14th century. From the Middle English word, whippen, of the same meaning.


A whip with a single block is to be used for light hoisting. For the whipping at the end of a line, the frequently used whips are the common whipping, sailmaker’s whipping, and the West Country whipping. A sailmaker’s whipping is used when it must not slip or come adrift (such as at the ends of the reef points of a sail).


Kemp, P. (1994). The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford University Press.

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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