Man of war

doodlebugger

Senior Member
France
Hello,
I have just come across the word man of war (or man o' war) to describe a battleship.
I know vessels are referred to as she in English.
Would you also say she for a man of war ?
 
  • mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Certainly. A man-of-war is a type of ship, so any particular man-of-war would have its own name/identity and anyone on that ship would refer to it in the feminine.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Does anyone can explain an etymology of this word?

    The phrase was first borrowed wholesale from the French homme de guerre to refer to a soldier.

    It was later applied to ships.

    There are several phrases using 'man' to refer to a ship serving a particular purpose: an 'Indiaman' went to the Indies, a 'Merchantman' was a merchant ship, a 'man-of-war' went to battle.
     

    doodlebugger

    Senior Member
    France
    The phrase was first borrowed wholesale from the French homme de guerre to refer to a soldier.

    That's precious!
    Look what I found when hitting the French translation for man-of-war:

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man'o'war

    "Le mot est d'origine anglaise, contraction de Man-of-War (littéralement Homme de Guerre)"
    I guess it went full circle then!

    Further down the article refers to a merchant ship as a man-of-trade.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I agree with you entirely Not Logged In regarding both the short answer and Yes. I often have the same problem and waste time thinking something up!
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    That's precious!
    Look what I found when hitting the French translation for man-of-war:

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man'o'war

    "Le mot est d'origine anglaise, contraction de Man-of-War (littéralement Homme de Guerre)"
    I guess it went full circle then!

    Further down the article refers to a merchant ship as a man-of-trade.

    Yes, I always enjoy exploring how these two languages have 'traded spores' over the centuries.

    Funny about 'man-of-trade' though. I've never heard it and the OED has no citation for it. I wonder where wiki got that information.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    I can imagine the following dialogue:

    - You friend is a captain, right? What kind of a ship does he command?

    - She is a man of war.

    - You mean ... your friend is a, erh ... transsexual !?
    (I really only wanted to know about the ship.)
     

    equivoque

    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    Might be diverging here, but the first thing I thought of before I even opened the thread was a Jellyfish - They're locally called Bluebottles and they hurt like hell!
     

    equivoque

    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    Well if they come all the way from Portugal to sting me in S.E. Queensland, they must be more tenacious nasties that I first thought. They do tend to come in large numbers after particularly blowy weather coming from the North - but that is taking North to extremes!

    I thought they wofted or floated in on tides from Indonesia or there-abouts.
     

    Kenneth Garland

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I have also been stung by a bluebottle/man of war, when I lived in Queensland, and I an verify equivoque's experience of them! :eek:

    However, to return to the subject... :)

    Many Royal Navy (and merchant) ships have been named after men, but they are still referred to as 'she'.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Found the following etymology here

    man-of-war
    c.1390, "a soldier," from man (n.) + war. Meaning "vessel equipped for warfare" is from 1484. Man in the sense of "a ship" is attested from 1473 in comb. forms (e.g. merchantman). The sea creature known as the Portuguese man-of-war (1707) is so called for its sail-like crest.
     
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