phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at
Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Go by the board

The meaning and origin of the expression: Go by the board

Go by the board

Other phrases about:

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Go by the board'?

Finished with, as in thrown overboard.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Go by the board'?

Go by the boardThe board is the side or the decking of a ship. In common with many nautical phrases, 'go by the board' dates back to the 17th century. Most of the early references to this phrase relate to masts of sailing ships that had fallen 'by the board'; for example, John Taylor's Works, 1603:

"In this fight their Reare-Admirals Maine Mast was shot by the boord."

and The London Gazette No. 60/3, 1666:

"Our Main-stay, and our Main Top-Mast came all by the board."

It isn't clear exactly whether the phrase 'go by the board' originated with the meaning 'gone over the side' or 'fallen onto the deck'. The usually definitive Admiral William Henry Smyth gives equivocal meanings in his listing of the term in The Sailor's Word-Book: an alphabetical digest of nautical terms, 1867:

"By the board. Over the ship's side. When a mast is carried away near the deck it is said to go by the board."

The figurative use of the phrase began in the mid 19th century; for example, this early citation, from The Gettysburg Republican Compiler, November 1837:

"Those banks that do not resume speedily will go by the board."

Items which go by the board could be said to be jetsam - see flotsam and jetsam.

See other Nautical Phrases.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List