The Pirate Lingo Guide You Never Knew You Needed

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A man dressed as a pirate looking through a telescope from a ship.
BetMGM Sep 09, 2023, 9:00 AM

The great thing about online casinos is that they offer various online casino games and some of the best online slots. In fact, you’re spoiled for choice with the slot machine themes that you can explore. Among them are pirate-themed slots, such as Captain’s Treasure and Rage of the Seas.

If this is something that’s right up your alley, then it’s no wonder you may be looking to brush up on your pirate lingo and phrases. Whether you’re preparing for International Talk Like a Pirate Day or are simply looking to get into character for popular pirate slots, this list has you covered.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Commemorated annually on 19 September, International Talk Like a Pirate Day’s origins can be traced back to 1995. Not only is it a fun and light-hearted occasion, but it’s also the perfect excuse to unleash your inner child. Why? Nobody can give you a weird look if you walk around greeting everyone with an “Ahoy, maties!” or an “Ahoy, me hearties!”

What started out as an inside joke between two friends has spawned an internationally recognized day for all things pirates. International Talk Like a Pirate Day came about as a satirical holiday created by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy) of Albany, Oregon. At the time, they humorously declared that the day should be dedicated to talking like a pirate, no matter where you are in the world.

If your pirate lingo and jargon are very limited, worry not. This guide will help you learn how to talk like a pirate to ensure you aren’t cast adrift on the ocean.

Common Pirate Words and Phrases

You’ve probably come across these words and phrases in a pirate movie, book or while playing real online slots with a pirate theme. Below are just some of the commonly used terms for you to familiarize yourself with and truly immerse yourself in pirate culture.

“Abandon ship”

This phrase is used even in everyday life and conversations. It’s an order to stop what you’re doing immediately. It’s typically used in the face of danger or an impending threat. Chances are, you’ve probably encountered this phrase in just about any pirate slot machine.


This is possibly the first pirate slang word that people learn. This one simply means “hello” and is used as a common greeting.

“Avast ye”

A command that means to “pay attention or listen.”

“Aye, aye

This is one of the most well-known pirate sayings, and it means “Yes, I understand.” It can also be used in agreement.

“Blow the man down”

Simply means “to kill someone.”


A pirate slang term meaning “treasure.”

“Bring a spring upon her cable”

This is often done as a surprise or unexpected move, meaning “to come from a different direction.”


This is the lesser-known term for “friend” or “companion.”

“Chantey” (also “Chanty,” “Shantey” or “Shanty”)

Reference to a song sung by pirates to the rhythm of their movements while working. This is something that’s still widely evident among sailors in parts of the world today.

Davy Jones’s Locker

This well-known idiom is used to refer to the seabed, or more specifically, the thousands of drowned pirates (and even ships and other objects) that rest there.

“Dead men tell no tales”

An expression that means dead people will not betray any secrets. It’s often used as a threat to kill someone or to say there were no survivors.

“Feed the fish”

One of the more ominous and dark pirate phrases, this one means “about to die.”


An affectionate term that’s widely known and used, simply meaning “friends.”

Jolly Roger

Much like how every country has a flag that it’s associated with, the Jolly Roger is the formal name of the iconic black pirate flag. The flag associated with pirates features a white skull and crossbones. It’s typically hoisted when a ship is preceding or under attack.


In pirate slang, to be marooned means to be abandoned with no food, drink or possessions; to be left stranded.


This term needs very little explanation; it quite simply means “my,” as in, “Ahoy, me hearties!”

“No prey, no pay”

This phrase dates back to pirates from the 17th century. It’s a pirate law that means the crew didn’t get paid but took a share of any loot. In a way, it’s a term used to reference a form of remuneration for pirates.

“No quarter”

This phrase is quite a brutal one — it means “no mercy.”

“Run a rig”

To play a trick or joke on someone.


This is a question that asks, “Do you understand?”


This is what a pirate would call someone they don’t trust.


Usually used as a part of the phrase “ye scurvy dog,” this derogatory adjective means lowly or disgusting and derives from the disease of the same name that is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, more than 2 million sailors without access to fresh food supplies died from scurvy. So, the insult can also be used to indicate a lack of respect for sailors that can’t keep up. 


This is slang for gossip in pirate terms. In the 19th century, pirates used to gather around a water butt on a ship and gossip. In modern-day terms, you could liken it to office gossip at the water cooler.


A term used to refer to an old or experienced pirate.

“Shiver me timbers”

This is one of the things a pirate says as an exclamation of surprise associated with the violent movement of a ship’s timber decking upon a violent sea. It was popularized in works of fiction, including Disney’s 1950 adaptation of “Treasure Island.”

“Son of a biscuit eater”

This is a derogatory term used to express great disdain for someone; an insult.


Undoubtedly one of the most common pirate terms, this one simply means “you.”

Enjoy Some of the Best Pirate-Themed Games at BetMGM

To enjoy a premium gaming experience and put the pirate lingo that you’ve just learned to use, you can immerse yourself in the online casino. From live dealer casino games to other assorted slots, BetMGM has it all. Play slots online for real money and potentially win big when you register at BetMGM. 

If you’d prefer to try your luck with table games, you can find variations of some of the best online casino games on the website. The blog is also a useful training resource that can help you refine your strategies for different casino games, learn all the lingo you should know (like craps terminology, for example,) and so much more. 

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.