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Re: Spin a yarn

Posted by ESC on June 10, 2000

In Reply to: Phrase posted by paula jackson on June 09, 2000

: where does the saying "spinning a yarn" come from?

SPIN A YARN - "It has the ring of a salty expression and is popularly thought to have come from wet weather days when crews would be given the job of 'spinning' or loosely twisting together yarns of old rope to be used for small tying jobs. Sheltering under the foc'sle head it would have been a great time for telling stories. However, spinning yarn was carried on ashore long before it was at sea and this is probably one of the few shore expressions adopted by seamen. To spin a fibre, especially wood, correctly and ensure it remains the right size, length and twist, the spinner has to continually stretch the material. Thus when the old-timers wanted to suggest that someone was stretching the truth they likened it to 'spinning a yarn.'" From "Salty Dog Talk" by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1995).