REPLY: The resource of this fairly delicate hatchet is fairly interesting. It is a nautical or marine term the goes ago to the job of the old cruising ships. Let’s start at the ago of the ship.

You are watching: What is the poop deck on a ship

The upper-most rear, or the stern, was dubbed the poop deck. This is whereby the ship’s wheel was situated — in the rear of the ship, near the rudder — in order to mitigate the number of pulleys and ropes required for steering. The poop deck was elevated for this reason the captain and pilot would have a clear check out over the former of the ship. In instance you are wondering, the surname “poop deck” originates from the French word for the stern, “la poupe.” i wouldn’t want my readers to acquire the not correct idea, there!

When sailing, the wind generally originates from the rear, pour it until it is full the sails and also propelling the ship forward. During heavy weather, the foam and spray from high waves behind the ship would leave the poop deck and the pilot fairly wet. (And after ~ a job of steering in negative weather, the pilot to be “pooped.”)

At the former of the ship to be the figure head: a carved wooden number or bust fitted on the bow that the ship. Due to the fact that the wind was blowing native the rear to the front, the “head” (or front) the the ship to be the best place for seafarers to relieve themselves. So, as soon as the shipmates went to the toilet, they checked out the head. (I assumption: v a sailor can have said, “I’m going come the bow.”)

While we’re ~ above the topic of nautical jargon, let’s carry out “scuttlebutt.” This was a water barrel (or butt) that had actually been “scuttled” v a hole, so that water could be taken out for a drink. As you might imagine, there was a an excellent deal the loitering roughly the scuttlebutt. That’s why office “watercooler” gossip is periodically referred to together “scuttlebutt.” A drink fountain is still referred to as the scuttlebutt in the Navy, or at the very least it was years ago when I remained in the Army and also stationed with some navy personnel.

Curious around something? Send your concerns to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, college of Science and also Mathematics, Lander University, Greenwood, SC 29649, or e-mail jerry Selected concerns will show up in the Curiosity Corner. For Curiosity edge background, go to



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