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THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND ORIGIN

Monday February 16th, 2009
ImageNo it’s not got anything to do with losing bed linen in a gale. The phrase ‘three sheets to the wind’, meaning drunk as a lord, hammered, legless, rendered etc. has its historical roots in sailing. A sheet was in fact a rope used to trim a sail’s angle to the wind. There were usually four to each sail. If one broke and the corner of a sail was left to flap about the sheet was said to be ‘to the wind’. Of course the more sheets that got damaged or broken the harder it became to control the billowing sail. The term ‘one sheet to the wind… two sheets…’ and so on were used mockingly to describe various states of drunkenness amongst seamen. Three sheets meant a mariner was pretty much out of control!
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