Our Favourite Pirate Expressions

Shiver me timbers, it's International 'Talk Like a Pirate Day', so we've rounded up some family friendly expressions for your nippers and a few simple costume ideas


When you think of pirates, everyone has an image that comes to mind, whether it's Captain Hook or Captain Jack Sparrow they all have distinguishing features.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day takes place on the 19th of September every year, and encourages everyone to dress like a pirate and include pirate themed words and noises into everything they say.

The original idea, started by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy) was inspired by a sports injury which made one of them shout 'Aarrrgh'.

How to dress like a pirate

For many, the day is an excuse to dress up and wear tights, for others it's a chance to fundraise for charity. We've gathered up some of the more family friendly expressions you can practice with your kids as well as a step by step guide on how to dress like a pirate using items found in most homes.

How to Dress Like a PirateOn Ye Head: Fold a bandanna (or a tea towel) in half to form a triangle. Tie this around the head with the knot at the nape of the neck. Tuck in the free end from the point of the triangle.

On Ye Legs: Put on some jeans and roll up the ends until the length of the jeans is mid-calf.

Cover Ye Torso: Select a solid-coloured or striped T-shirt without writing or logos.

Land Ho!: Colour the tube from the paper towel roll with the black marker or black paint. Secure a piece of cling film on one end and tape it in place to form the lens of a telescope. Tear off a strip of aluminium foil about 10 cm wide. Fold it lengthwise several times and wrap it around the tube to cover the ends of the cling film. Secure the foil with a small piece of tape.

Ye Cutlass: Cut a strip of corrugated cardboard about 10 cm wide and at least 30 cm long to make a sword. Cut another piece about 7 cm wide and 15 cm long. Secure the shorter piece at right angles to the longer piece with tape to form the handle of a sword. Cut a point at the end opposite the handle. Cover the sword with aluminium foil. Add a belt and tuck the sword into it.

On Ye Eye: Cut a triangle about 5 to 7 cm long on every side from the lightweight cardboard to make an eye patch.

Round off the sharp corners. Use the sharp pointed end of the scissors to pierce two tiny holes in this cardboard at either end, about a half cm from the edges.

Place the patch on a padded surface when piercing the holes in the eye patch rather than attempting to pierce it while holding the patch in your hand for safety reasons. Colour the patch with the marker or black paint.

Thread a 30 cm string or elastic thread through the holes and tie securely. Stick small pieces of tape over the holes on the inside of the eye patch to secure the ends of the knots. Place this patch over one eye and tie the string at the back of the head. Trim the ends of the string if necessary.

Tips on how to speak like a pirate

A key part of this celebration is in the name; Talk Like a Pirate Day. These tips and expressions will help add a sprinkle of the seafarer into conversations.

  1. Grand! - Double up on all your adjectives, pirates never speak of 'a big ship', they call it a 'great, grand ship!'
  2. Rowin' - Drop all your 'g''s when you speak and you'll get words like 'rowin', 'sailin' and 'fightin'. Dropping all of your 'v''s will get you words like 'ne'er', 'e'er' and 'o'er'.
  3. You be - Always speak in the present tense. Instead of saying "'I am', sailors say, 'I be'. Instead of saying 'You are', sailors say, 'You be'. Instead of saying, 'They are', sailors say, 'They be'.

Popular pirate expressions:

How to Talk Like A Pirate
  • Aft - The back of the ship
  • Ahoy - Hello or Hey!
  • Arr - Exclamation
  • Lass - Young girl / woman
  • Booty - Treasure
  • Bucko - A young male friend
  • Cast Off! - Let go!
  • Deadlights - Eyes
  • Hearties - Friends or sailors
  • Hornswoggle - To trick 'em
  • Matey - A shipmate or a friend
  • Where Away - Which way?
  • Batten Down The Hatches - Get ready for something
  • Yo-ho-ho - Pirate laughter
  • Sink Me - Expression of surprise
  • Step To - Command to move!
  • Ye - You
  • Avast Ye - Pay attention
  • Seadog - Old pirate or sailor
  • Cap'n - Captain
  • Fair Winds! - Good-bye / luck
  • Jolly Roger - Pirate flag
  • Aye - Yes
  • Loot - Treasure
  • Nipper - Small Child
  • Shiver Me Timbers - Phrase expressing surprise
Share this:
quotation mark
It was really nice to be able to fully enjoy the wedding knowing our daughter was in safe hands at the crèche. Great staff, great service, much appreciated, thank you :-)
Kerry, Farnham