International Talk Like a Pirate Day: How to Talk Like a Pirate

Pirates at Starbucks for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. This is the day where people celebrate that a bunch of scurvy rats who once terrorized the seas by speaking like them. Beyond the fact that pirates most likely were not nice people (have you actually listened to the lyrics of “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)“from Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean), they are fun to try and talk like. There are certain words and sounds that are immediately recognizable as being pirate speak.

In honor of this celebration, here are a few tips to empower you to talk like a pirate. If this article is well received, we may have to add a how to dress like a pirate post but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are some basic words and sounds that are necessary for any aspiring pirate dialectician.

  • Ahoy! – Another word used to call attention. Think of this as the pirate version of “hello.” In my imagination, the pirates fell into this one because they were so lazy in the way they said hello. Eventually it mutated into ahoy.
  • Arrrr – What is a pirate’s favorite letter? I’m sure you’ve heard it before but the easiest word to remember if you want to sound like a pirate is “arrr” You can also add in a gh at the end if you want to add a little roughness to it (arrrgh). The important thing to remember with this though is to make it sound rough and gruff. If you are hoarse at the end of a day of growling Arrrr, you are probably on the right track! Arrr basically is an affirmation. It can replace any statement made in the positive from “yes” to “I really liked the way you made my triple shot caramel latte extra hot with light foam!” Now this is where it gets tricky. It can also mean that you absolutely hate something. It all depends on the delivery.
  • Avast – This word is incredibly useful. It calls attention to things. It could be substituted with “look!” or “hey!” or any other word that you want to get people’s attention with. It generally is used with a level of excitement or as an exclamation of surprise.
  • Aye – Another pirate word of affirmation, this one can mean more than just “yes.” It also voices agreement. 
  • Aye Aye – As you may be aware, most pirates were found on ships (unless they were marooned or had their ship blown out from under them… or if they weren’t a good pirate). That being said, there was a hierarchy for pirates. The hierarchy was very similar to that of a navy. With this structure, orders were given and received. Aye Aye is basically another way of saying “yes sir.” It shows compliance and obedience to a directive given.
  • Batten Down the Hatches! – Get everything put away and safely secured because a storm is brewing. While traditionally this was used aboard a ship, if you can see controversy is brewing today… this statement would be appropriate.
  • Bilge Rat – This one really isn’t that hard to figure out. But I will define it. The bilge aboard the pirate ship was pretty much the lowest and worst part of the ship. It wasn’t fun to clean and it wasn’t fun to be in. It was below the waterline. And rats… well there is nothing fun about a rat on a pirate ship. They eat the food, bring aboard disease, and chew on everything. Put the two together and you have a pretty bad pirate insult. Do not use this with anyone you care about… or your boss.
  • Buccaneer – Quite simply put, this is a fancy word that means pirate and doesn’t sound as bad.
  • Cleave Him to the Brisket! To put simply, this is an exclamation encouraging your pirate friend to rip the other person to shreds.
  • Cutlass – This is a short, heavy, curved sword used by pirates. For International Talk Like a Pirate Day purposes… a butter knife will suffice.
  • Davy Jones’ Locker – The bottom of the sea, this is where pirates went when they died. It was also used in the context of a sailor drowning or a shipwreck. Davy Jones was basically the sailor’s devil.
  • Head – This would be the restroom. It’s a wonderfully easy word to use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
  • Heave Ho – Traditionally used when raising the anchor, heave ho means to put one’s back and muscle into a job and really work it. This could be used for any task that requires extra effort today.
  • Hornswaggle – This would be a fancy word used that means to cheat or trick. It could also be used as a substitute word for prank. International Talk Like a Pirate Day is a fantastic day to hornswaggle someone!
  • Jolly Roger – The pirate’s flag or colors. Many pirates had their own personalized version of the skull and crossbones. Make your own flag and put it on your door!
  • Keelhaul – The worst of worst punishments, to keelhaul meant being punished by getting dragged under the keel of the ship. Remember, there were lots of barnacles under there… not to mention a lack of air. Did I mention that pirates weren’t very nice?
  • Lad – A young boy. Lad can be used for any younger male.
  • Land Lubber – A land lubber is someone who does not like or want to go to sea. He/she is most comfortable when their feet are on dry land. To a pirate, this is viewed a luxurious and weak life… so calling someone a land lubber is definitely not a compliment.
  • Lass/Lassie – A younger girl. Lass or Lassie can be used for younger females… it should be used with caution though as many females aren’t so keen on this phraseology.
  • Mate – A friend or comrade, use mate when you want to address someone. Got it, mate?
  • Me – This basically means “my.” Substitute it every time for a very easy pirate effect.
  • Pieces of Eight – These are the coins the pirates would hold on to. It was part of their treasure so… pick a treasure and define use as your pieces of eight!
  • Pillage – This is a very important part of the pirate’s lingo and job description. After all, what does a pirate do? Pillage of course! This means to rob, steal, or plunder.
  • Privateer – This is a government sponsored pirate. However, for today’s purposes this can be a rat who is being devious on behalf of “the man.”
  • Run a Shot Across the BowTo fire a warning shot in front of another ship. Today, you don’t need to actually shoot something across someone’s bow (although spitballs might work), instead use this as a phrase to replace the statement that you are going to give someone a warning… or direct someone else to give a warning.
  • Saavy? – A favorite of Captain Jack Sparrow, this means “understand?” It can also be used as a solicitation of agreement instead of saying something like “got it?”
  • Scallywag – A mild insult indicating a rogue or devious pirate. Sometimes this can be used as a sarcastic title.
  • Scurvy – Beyond a disease caused by severe vitamin c deficiency, scurvy means contemptible or deplorable. 
  • Scuttle – Traditionally this word means to abandon a ship. It also could be used to abandon just about anything… so.. .time to scuttle the office and go to Disneyland instead? I think that works!
  • Seadog – This is a an old pirate with lots of experience. So… today you can use this to identify anyone who has been around longer than the others.
  • Shipshape – This means that everything is ready to go and polished up.
  • Shiver Me Timbers! – An exclamation of surprise, this can substitute “holy cow,” “holy schnikies” or… you fill in the blank.
  • Thar She Blows! – Traditionally used to point out a whale sighting, it now can be used to point out a large personality, or other large event. . . like a temper tantrum.
  • Weigh Anchor! – This traditionally was an order to literally lift the anchor and get underway however, it can now mean “let’s go!”
  • Ye – Just like “me” replaces “my,” ye can be used to replace “you.”

Now this is just a rudimentary list of pirate words/phrases for your use today for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Print this out and take it with you everywhere you go, unless you are really good at memorizing. If you can memorize, all the better! It will make things that much more fun, spontaneous, and of course… piratey.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day Challenge:

Here’s the challenge, throughout the course of your day attempt to use every one of these words at some point! Keep tally of which ones you use and collect your points as follows:

  • 1 point for every time a pirate word used from the above list. Or, if you have more pirate phrases/words you can use them for points. Please just include the words with your point tally in the comment section below so they can be added to our list.
  • 10 bonus points if you are able to use ALL of the words from this list.
  • 10 bonus points if you dress like a pirate as well. Pictures are a must for verification!
  • 5 bonus points if you watch a pirate movie like Treasure Island or Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • 5 bonus points for riding Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, you get the idea. If there is another pirate ride you can cruise aboard, this will count as well. You can only do this ONCE though!
  • 5 bonus points for singing a pirate song in public. Add another 5 extra bonus points if you video yourself doing this and send said video to DAPs Magic via the contact button.

Collect your points throughout the day and then post your score in the comment section below! Please feel free to add pirate words/phrases that have been missed as well and we will add them to our list.

Now, go out and talk like a pirate! It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day and this is an opportunity that should not be missed! Please remember to just talk like a pirate though and not act like one… we don’t want anyone to end up in jail because of an article they read on DAPs Magic.

Make it a GREAT day!

  • Mr. DAPs




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