November 23, 2010

A Brief History Of Poop


In the comments page of my last post, the discussion turned to poop.

Well, to the word 'poop', that is.

An explanation was offered for just where poop comes from. And, as it turns out, poop has a long, established, and honorable history aboard sailing vessels.

The word 'poop', that is.

Contrary to what many believe, the poop deck of old sailing ships had nothing to do with pooping. One may have gotten pooped on the poop deck, but one did not poop on the poop deck.

And you may not be surprised to learn that we get poop from the French.

The word 'poop', that is.

I don't know why it is, but when the English are at a loss for the perfect word to use for something, more often than not they look to the French for inspiration.

And so it was with poop.

Well, poupe, actually, which is the French word for the stern of a ship, as one of my readers en provence was kind enough to point out.

Apparently, the English and the French have been giving each other poop for years. So, when the English were adding officers' cabins at the stern of their ships and needed a name for the deck above those cabins, they looked to the French and the first thing they thought of was poop.

The poop deck was born.

In time, taking waves from astern on the poop deck came to be known as 'getting pooped'. And, if you happened to be the English officer standing on the poop deck while getting thoroughly pooped, the first words you would probably have uttered would have been, "Oh, poop!"

In more time, swabbies became so used to hearing "Poop!" emanating from the officers on the poop deck, that any information percolating down from on high in the naval service came to be known as 'poop'.

If this information was circulated in written form, it was said to be contained in a 'poop sheet'

So the poop we originally got from the French and that was passed down to us from English naval officers is the sheet we have to deal with today.

I could go on.

But I'm pooped.



  1. Poop is a palindrome, did ewe non?

  2. 'Palindrome' derives from 'palin', which means 'backward' in Alaska.

  3. If Alaska were called Alasksala you still wouldn't be able to see Russia from Sarah Palin's reality show.

  4. I thought Palindrome is the airport where Sarah hangers her chartered Gulfstream II executive jet.

    And poop from the French? Americans don't take no poop from the French. After they declined to join the US in the festivities in Iraq, the Congress changed "poop deck" to "freedom deck". (Really. No S**t.)

  5. I'm holding my ribs with laughter!!!! Than you guys!!! ...and no, there's no woman to blame... Tillerman started it all by talking about on or off his laser board. Actually MY definition of a sailor is someone who can... well... sail.

  6. Poop actually comes (via French) from the Latin Puppis, which was the word for the stern deck of a ship. There is a constellation called Puppis which used to be part of the larger constellation Argo Navis, which represented the Ship used by Jason and the Argonauts to sail to fetch the Golden Fleece.

    In the 18th century, Argo Navis was split into three smaller constellations, Carina the Keel, Puppis the Stern or Poop, and Vela the Sail, with small Pyxis the Compass located nearby. The astronomer responsible for this ship-breaking was Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, who was of course... French.

    The French are definitely to blame.

  7. With all this talk about poop, does anyone need a wash cloth? It must have been the anchovies.

    Speaking of Latin and the speakers of said dead language. During Roman times, anchovies were the base for the fermented fish sauce called garum that was a staple of cuisine and an item of long-distance commerce produced in industrial quantities, and were also consumed raw as an aphrodisiac. Today they are used in small quantities to flavor many dishes. Because of the strong flavor, they are also an ingredient in several sauces, including Worcestershire sauce, remoulade and many fish sauces, and in some versions of Café de Paris butter. Some how we end up back to the French.

  8. This is what I love about writing this blog.

    I do a simple post on poop, and my readers teach me about all kinds of fascinating stuff.

    First of all, Frankie tips me off to the origins of poop. Then I learn about palindromes from Baydog. Panda updates me on the latest trends in aviation. Tillerman teaches me astronomy. And Joe has lessons in gastronomy and aphrodisiacs (you can always count on Joe to remind us of what's important in life).

    The only problem I see here is that 'Sarah Palin's reality show' isn't a palindrome.

    It's an oxymoron.

  9. Does anybody have a good recipe for turkey with anchovies?

  10. Oxymoran.

    Billy Mays was an Oxymoron, god rest his soul.

  11. aphrodisiacs...

    We didn't have them in those days. And we didn't know who was the ladies. But Bernie once had a plate of anchovies, and in the night he was thrilled and delighted! He got up smiling, and he said "I think there's ladies here."

    Happy (lusty) turkey day! And never eat fried food.

  12. Amazing the poopular demand for this sort of thing.

  13. I try so hard to keep an orderly, focused discussion going here.

    Where have I failed?