NAUTICAL SAYINGS NO GREAT SHAKES
Monday March 23rd, 2009
NO GREAT SHAKES
Another bizarre and baffling phrase. It really doesn’t make sense. Unless you know that ‘shakes’ were the staves and hoops of a barrel, which on their own are worthless. With storage space so limited aboard old ships, once a barrel was empty it was ‘shaken’, meaning dismantled so it took up less room. The pile of staves and hoops that built up during a voyage were referred to as ‘the great shakes’.