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Re: Shiver my timbers

Posted by ESC on February 27, 2009 at 23:08

In Reply to: Shiver my timbers posted by Pete on February 27, 2009 at 17:00:

: Wasn't the phrase, "shiver my timbers" referring to the quaking of a ship and its rigging in a blow?

Shiver My Timbers! ... (expletive denoting surprise or disbelief)
Presumably, this expression alludes to a ship's striking a rock or shoal so hard that her timbers shiver. The expression was first seen in 1834 in the novel "Jacob Faithfully" by Frederick Marryat. In 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson found it to be the perfect exclamation for the irascible Long John Silver: "So! Shiver me timbers, here's Jim Hawkins!" This stereotypical expletive became extremely popular with writers of sea yarns and Hollywood swashbucklers.
From "When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay: Seafaring Words in Everyday Speech" by Olivia A. Isil. More here: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/shiver-my-timbers.html