Sailor Speak of the Week – Fake

Various fakes and coils.

Definition

(also spelled flake)

Noun

  • One turn in a coil of line.

Verb

  • To lay out a line or chain on the deck for easy running or inspection.

Origin

From Middle English, faken, meaning to coil. Fake came into usage probably earlier than the 17th century.

Comments

There are several ways to fake a line, but they all involve laying out a line in various turns. A proper fake will allow each coil or turn of a line to run out without fouling the one below it. There’s also a debate about whether the correct term is fake or flake. Rogers opines that since it derives from the Middle English word faken, then it’s probably fake.

References

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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