Submarine [verb for movement]

rafacub

Member
Spain Spanish
Hi guys, I would like to know the verb to describe a moving submarine. And what about a big ferry? Thanks a lot amigos!
 
  • vicky1027

    Senior Member
    usa english
    The only thing I can think of is the submarine is underway...the ferry has set sail...these are nautical terms.
     

    vicky1027

    Senior Member
    usa english
    No, sailing means moving on top of the water, a submarine is under water.

    "underway" is a more general term. It means the vessel has left. Therefore you could also say the ferry is "underway."

    I hope I'm not confusing you!
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    No, sailing means moving on top of the water, a submarine is under water.

    "underway" is a more general term. It means the vessel has left. Therefore you could also say the ferry is "underway."

    I hope I'm not confusing you!
    Actually, Vicky, you are confusing the poster. It is perfectly correct, and completely common, to speak of a submarine "sailing" from one place to another, just as any other naval vessel would do.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Perhaps what's confusing is that when a submarine leaves port, it is on the surface (hence "sailing"). Since we all think of a submarine moving below the water, it could be this simple detail that is confusing the issue.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Perhaps what's confusing is that when a submarine leaves port, it is on the surface (hence "sailing"). Since we all think of a submarine moving below the water, it could be this simple detail that is confusing the issue.
    To "sail for" or "set sail" would encompass only the initial part of the voyage. "Sailing" is something that submarines do whether or not they are on the surface.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Perhaps what's confusing is that when a submarine leaves port, it is on the surface (hence "sailing"). Since we all think of a submarine moving below the water, it could be this simple detail that is confusing the issue.
    Apparently submarines may be said to "sail" whether on the surface or below it. Submariners seem to find no difficulty in speaking of "sailing submerged", as in this quote from a page maintained by a branch of the (UK) Submariners Association.

    Being the United Kingdom's contribution to NATOs strategic nuclear deterrent, at least one Polaris submarine was constantly on patrol, sailing submerged
    http://submariners.co.uk/Boats/Barrowbuilt/Polaris/
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    Ocean liners and freighters don't have sails but they still 'sail' when they move, and so do ferries, so why not submarines (which do actually have some kind of appendage called a 'sail')?
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    ¿It's ok to say a kid submarines "swim"? ¿Or it's too odd?
    What kind of submarine is a "kid submarine"?<< text deleted >> I am not sure what you mean by that. :confused:

    In any case, submarines do not "swim", and saying that would be very odd. In fact, it would be about as odd to a native English speaker as seeing a question mark written upside down -- which is a punctuation mark that exists in Spanish, but does not exist in English.:)
     
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    RoRo_en_el_foro

    Senior Member
    Español Argentina
    I see, thanks. To say to a kid that a submarin "swims", I tried to say. In spanish it would be acceptable only in a preschool context. In spanish << deleted >>. We don't have the sailing issue because we have no sails implicit in the verb.
     
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    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    All US and British submarines (and many others) are technically steamships, so steamed could be used. I'm not sure if I've ever heard it put that way, though.
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    I live across the street from Quonset Point (birthplace of the huts), known as "the crown jewel of the U.S. submarine industrial base." This provides me with no special knowledge whatsoever regarding this matter. That said, I expect the workers at that facility generally speak of submarines "travelling" underwater, as Parla has suggested.
     

    kyrintethron

    Senior Member
    English - America
    This is one of those silly ridiculous holes we have in English. Just like how we have no (common) gender neutral word for a single unit of cattle (a "cow" is actually a female unit of cattle). I'm inclined to say that "sail" is the correct term (just as someone might refer to a "bull" as a male cow, [which is a definitive fallacy, like calling a "man" a male woman]), because it can refer to all boats (though our stupid definitions seem to refer to what a human does with a boat), but when you consider the etymology (which clearly must originate from boats with sails) it sounds silly.

    Ugh, and even though it sounds incredibly stupid to me, I can't help but to feel that my natural urge is to say a sentence like: "The submarine sailed from Hawaii to the waters surrounding Okinawa." I want to encourage you to use the various conjugations of "to go", but I feel that most native English-speakers would say "sail". *sigh*

    -K
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    I (mistakenly) thought the OP was asking specifically about underwater activity. In that context, I'd say "travel" is as likely to be used as "sail." But I suppose movement in general is more likely to be described as sailing. The Yellow Submarine sailed, as did the Red October. Subs also cruise, operate, and plain old move.

    >>it would be good if you ask them

    Yeah, but the security guards might have some questions for me as well.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    I asked a couple of old shipmates what verb they would use, and the first answer I received was "steaming." This answer came from a quartermaster, who is responsible for entering this information in the ship's log, so I would accept it as correct.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    This is useful but the verb (to steam) is one used by someone on a submarine and is technically true of a nuclear vessel but not a diesel-electric. Someone observing or describing the underwater passage of a submarine might use another verb.

    I think in (British) naval terms a motor-powered vessel steams to a place (regardless of what powers it) but to the layman it sails. In one respect the OED is useless: the entry of sail has remained unrevised since 1908 and has no references to submarines and the entry for submarine (updated 2012) has no useful reference to movement. But the entry for sail does contain "to navigate a vessel in a specified direction.", which would do for me.
     

    jugen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    A useful forum. I am writing about a submarine ______ ing into territorial waters and torpedoing a ship. I'd like to use a strong verb and "sailing" sounds too tame. The year is 1937. Would "steamed into the _____ harbor and launched two torpedoes" be appropriate?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Looking around, the choice of word for the motion of a submarine seems to depend on context.
    They set sail.
    They penetrate enemy waters.
    They travel under water.
    They run silent, run deep - and 'silent running' is a mode of operation.
    Maybe there isn't a standard term that can be universally applied.
     

    jugen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Power is sounding good, ewie. And now I'm thinking (per panjandrum) "...slid into the harbor" because it sounds sneaky, snakelike, and sinister. (love those "S's").
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I think "sailed" is likely a good word for a drier sort of newspaper article, while "powered" would be serviceable for a passage in a novel.

    "Slid" is suspect, as it were.
     

    jugen

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Do not want dry anything - this is a juicy diary (fictional). Suspect is what I want!
     
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