GO BY THE BOARD ORIGIN
Wednesday March 9th, 2011
GO BY THE BOARD
Dating back to the 17th century the ‘board’ referred to here is the decking of a ship. Things that had fallen ‘by the board’ had generally crossed the deck to do so rather than simply fallen, or been thrown, overboard. For example: 'In this fight their Reare-Admirals Maine Mast was shot by the boord.' John Taylor's ‘Works’. 1603.
This appears to be confirmed in ‘The Sailor's Word-book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms’, 1865: 'By the board. Over the ship's side. When a mast is carried away near the deck it is said to go by the board.'
The figurative use of the word meaning ‘finished with’ originated in the early to mid 19th century as is confirmed in this citation from The ‘Gettysburg Republican Compiler’, November 1837: 'Those banks that do not resume speedily will go by the board.'
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