Swears like a sailor

Posted by Michael on January 21, 2002

In Reply to: Swears like a sailor posted by Wesley on January 20, 2002

: : : Where did this originate from? We are having a discussion of what it means today. Does it relate to a Navy sailor as we know it or does it refer to pirates?

: : In the UK the phrase is 'swears like a trooper'. There used to be a common similar phrase 'to billingsgate'. This refered to the strong swearing habits of the porters at Billingsgate fish market in London. Not all swore - my family worked there for years and some were, I hope, not guilty! Never-the-less, all porters were branded as swearers, just like all troopers and sailors.

: And, too, sailors earned other stereotype aspects in which they have been characterized as "liberal", such as being liberal in wasting money. "He spends like a sailor" refers, I guess, to sailors on-leave, in port. Swearing and spending (wine, women, song) are ways to compensate for long hours and days or monotonous time aboardship.

"Swears like a trucker" is another common phrase in the US. Means about the same thing as the above list.