Sailor Speak of the Week – Jackass



  1. A plug for a hawse pipe or hawse hole.
  2. A type of heavily-built boat used in Newfoundland.


(First definition) Probably earlier than the 19th century. Reportedly used in the U.S. Navy as the nickname for a small feed bag.


Regarding the first definition, a canvas bag (resembling a feed bag for an animal) would be stuffed with oakum and used to plug a hawse pipe or hawse hole to keep seawater out.


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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