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post #3 of Old 02-19-2004
aflanigan
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arcane nautical terms

What''s interesting is that my computer dictionary totally misses the boat, so to speak, on "larboard"''s derivation. It gives the origin as "laddebord" (middle English), but wrongly speculates that "ladde" came from "leden", "to lead",akin to the "steer" at the root of "starboard". It seems obvious to me looking at the word "laden" in the same dictionary that "laddebord" comes from combining "lade" with "bord", the side of the ship on which it is loaded. The Navy seems to concur:
http://www.history.navy.mil/trivia/trivia03.htm
. Larboard referred to the left side, the side on which the ship was loaded. So how did larboard become port? Shouted over the noise of the wind and the waves, larboard and starboard sounded too much alike. The word port means the opening in the "left" side of the ship from which cargo was unloaded. Sailors eventually started using the term to refer to that side of the ship. Use of the term "port" was officially adopted by the U.S. Navy by General Order, 18 February 1846.

The only thing I can''t figure out is, why was the steering oar always on the right side of the boat? Superstition?

Allen Flanigan
Alexandria, VA
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