Sailor vs. mariner

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jokaec

Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
He is a "sailor" or "mariner". He is on the ship most of the time.

Is there any difference between this two words? Thank you.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Not really. "Sailor" has other uses; people who sail dinghies on a lake are "sailors". People who don't get seasick are "good sailors". "Mariner" is only used for people who work on board ships, and I suppose it is therefore less ambiguous, but "sailor" is more common in ordinary English. Professional sailors probably prefer "mariner" (if they don't use a more specific term to describe their own role).
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Thank you all. I learned and agreed that "sailor" is more common in ordinary English.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As an aside "Master Mariner" is the highest qualification available to British Merchant Marine captains.
    "Mariner" is a formal or even literary word.
    :thumbsup: with a hint of romanticism: "a thorough-going sailor with a touch of adventure, discovery; ploughing through the seas, telescope in one hand, sextant in the other and the other one on the wheel, etc, etc.."

    Mariner also carries the nuance of "marine" - associated with the sea, as opposed to inland waters.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    In my usage too, marine (and therefore mariner) is exclusively “of the sea”.

    The Australian Bureau of Meterology talks about “marine forecasts” and “sea conditions” as distinct from “inland waters forecasts”. It seems to refer to them collectively using “local and coastal waters”.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Another point here is that “sailor” tends to, certainly not exclusively, imply a vessel with sails. For example, I would expect to be laughed at on a yacht with the sentence, “You’re not much of a sailor are you!”. But if I was in a motor boat I would expect not expect “sailor” to be used.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Another point here is that “sailor” tends to, certainly not exclusively, imply a vessel with sails. For example, I would expect to be laughed at on a yacht with the sentence, “You’re not much of a sailor are you!”. But if I was in a motor boat I would expect not expect “sailor” to be used.
    Apparently, the Royal Australian Navy does not rely on sailing ships these days, so what do you call the members of that military arm?:confused:
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Apparently, the Royal Australian Navy does not rely on sailing ships these days, so what do you call the members of that military arm?:confused:
    Yes, I agree of course - they are sailors! :D My comment is certainly restricted to the particular context I referred to of recreational boating.
     
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