Posted by R. Berg on November 08, 2001
In Reply to: "Around the Horn" posted by ESC on November 08, 2001
: : Anyone know where the expression "around the horn" comes from.
: I have heard the expression used to mean "go a great distance."
: AROUND THE HORN - "In the days of the tall ships any sailor who had sailed around Cape Horn was entitled to spit to windward; otherwise, it was a serious infraction of nautical rules of conduct. Thus, the permissible practice of spitting to windward was called 'round the horn.' Cape Horn isn't so named because it is shaped like a horn. Captain Schouten, the Dutch navigator who first rounded it in 1616, named it after Hoorn, his birthplace in northern Holland." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
Cape Horn is the southernmost point of South America. "Rounding the horn" might also have been used to mean "going a great distance" because sailing around S. Amer. meant a long voyage.
Spitting to windward sounds like a foolish practice even when permitted. Not everything that's legal is advisable.