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 Author  Topic: Origin of "Deep Six"

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Apr 14, 2010 - 5:35pm
This is only remotely related to PT's. but we did have a lead line on board. I am referring to using the phrase "deep six it" for disposing of an unwanted item. I recently saw the phrase defined at to throw away or bury six feet deep. In the navy we defined it as six fathoms. On the lead line six fathoms is "by the deep six". Have the landlubbers changed the definition of our language?

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Gary Paulsen


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Gary Paulsen   Send Email To Gary Paulsen Posted on: Apr 15, 2010 - 8:22am
They have kind of altered the definition some but your reference is incorperated into it. Found this definition.
A nautical expression indicating a water depth of 6 fathoms (36 feet) as measured by a sounding line; "deep six" acquired its idiomatic definition from the fact that something thrown overboard at or greater than this depth would be difficult if not impossible to recover. Marks on a sounding line were traditionally placed at 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17, and 20 fathoms. The "leadsman" called out the depth as he read it off the line. If the depth was at a mark he would call "by the mark" followed by the number, if the depth was between two marks, he would call "by the deep" followed by the estimated number. Six fathoms would therefore be reported as "by the deep six."
Hope this helps.

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