Jackspeak

Jackspeak: Certain words or terminology that is used in the Canadian Navy.

The Canadian Navy has it's own terminology and slang that is still evolving to this day. Much of the language used is still derived from the Royal Navy, although as Canadians many local customs and slang have come about.

Please choose a letter from our index:

0-9 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Name Tape - The cloth name tag that is sewn on a working uniform.

NAS - (USN) Naval Air Station

Native - An officer or seaman whose home is in the port where the ship is lying.

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

NATO Standard - Term to indicate a large cup of coffee with milk/cream and sugar. Clearly a parody of the navy's penchant for stamping "NATO Standard" on equipment as part of NATO's bureaucratic drive to standardize parts across all the allies.

NATO Stock Number - Abbreviated NSN. A number given by NATO to identify a particular part.

Nautical mile - A unit of length corresponding approximately to one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian arc. By international agreement it is exactly 1,852 metres, approximately 6,076 feet, or 2000 yards, which is close enough for government work.

Nautical Nausea - Seasickness.

Nav - The ship's Navigating Officer, or having to do with navigation.

Naval Prayer - First published in 1662 in the Book of Common Prayer the Naval Prayer remains as the Canadian Navy's official prayer.

Navalized - When a civilian item is modified for Navy use.

Navi-guesser - The Navigating Officer, who is often humorously thought to guess certain aspects of his job, such as the reckoning of the ship's position.

Navigator - Officer responsible for safe navigation of the ship.

Navy Brat - A child or adolescent who has grown up in a Navy household. See "Base Brat".

Navy Day - An annual event in the dockyard where ships give tours to the public, coupled with other fun and frivolity.

Navy Gravy - Ketchup, of course.

Nay - No. The opposite of "aye".

NBC Warfare - Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare.

NDA - National Defence Act.

NDHQ - National Defence Headquarters.

Neat - Undiluted rum, (not mixed). Usually used in opposition to "grog" which has been diluted with water. Also referred to as "neaters".

Negat - Spoken or abbreviated form of "negative".

Negative - No.

Nelson's Balls - The iron spheres positioned on either side of a magnetic compass, designed to correct magnetic errors caused by the ship itself. Usually they're painted green and red. Named after Admiral Horatio Nelson. Incidentally, in the RN, they're called "Lord Kelvin's Balls".

Nelson's Blood - A term for "Rum". There is a legend that states that following Horatio Nelson's victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar, his body was preserved in a cask of rum. When the cask arrived in England, there was no rum in the cask. It was discovered that the sailors had drilled a hole in the bottom of the cask and had drunk all the rum, hence the term "Nelson's Blood". The details of the story are disputed, as many historians claim the cask contained French brandy. Still, the nickname happily persists.

Neptunes Dandruff - Table salt.

NES - Non-Effective Strength. Refers to a reservist that has gone inactive, but is still on the books.

Nest - Two or more ships berthed together, one outboard of the other.

Newfie John - Slang for the popular port of St. John's, Newfoundland.

Newfy Steak - A meal of fried bologna.

Next time take one step closer to the razor! - The complaint of the Chief or Petty Officer when they want to tell you that you need a shave.

NFG - Non-Functional Gear. Written on the sides of inoperative equipment as an indication that it should be replaced or scrapped. The term is usually corrupted to mean "'No Fucking Good".

Nipper - The sailor whose job it was to "nip" a sailing ship's anchor cable to the endless belt turned by the capstan when the anchor was being weighed were always the smallest and youngest men on board. Hence the term "nipper" has come to mean a young sailor.

Nixie - A physical countermeasure against acoustic homing torpedoes. It consists of a noise-generating body called a "fish" which is towed behind the ship on a cable.

No Duff - Used to indicate that the situation is real, and not a drill or exercise.

No Joy - Report that is returned when there is no radio contact, or visual contact. Also used for any piece of equipment that is not functional.

No Names, No Pack-Drill - Means to say nothing, and avoid repercussions. This term comes from the Army, specifically the British Army. However it is often used by members of the RCN to this day. Pack-drill was a punishment given to soldiers requiring them to undertake drill in full uniform and carrying a heavy pack. "No names, no pack-drill" was used to imply that the names of those who have committed a transgression will not be mentioned in order to spare them from the awful punishment.

No Room to Swing a Cat - In the days of sail, the entire ship's company was expected to witness floggings, and they were assembled on deck. If it was very crowded, the bosun might not have room to swing the "cat o' nine tails". Therefore this term means that the location is crowded.

No! No! - The reply from a boat to a challenging ship when no marks of respect need to be paid.

Nobby - Nickname for those with the surname of "Clark" or variations thereof.

Nobby - Nickname for those with the surname of "Clark". eg. "Is everyone in the navy named Nobby Clark?" Also used for surnames "Hewitt" and "White". Also seen as "Knobby".

Non-Commissioned Member - A serviceman other than an officer. A non-commissioned member does not hold a commission. Abbreviated NCM.

Non-skid - An epoxy compound applied to deck surfaces to improve traction. Usually on all weather decks of any Canadian warship.

North Atlantic Squadron - An obscene drinking song associated with Canadian sailors. The main chorus is "Away, away, with fyfe and drum, here we come, full of rum, looking for women to pat on the bum, in the North Atlantic Squadron." As well, there are a number of traditional verses, but the challenge for participants is to make up new verses on the spot. It is thought to have originated in the RCN during WWI as the "Old Destroyer Squadron". Some say that the "Squadron" referred to in the lyrics is the "10th Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron" of the RCAF.

North Star Tattoo - Symbolizes that the sailor will always know the direction to go home. (See Compass Rose Tattoo)

North-Easter - Slang term meaning "not entitled", this dates from when ratings stepped up to the pay table only to discover they were not entitled to pay by reason of fines or other debts. This was abbreviated "N.E." on the pay sheet.

Not Me Chief, I'm Comm School - At recruit school at HMCS/CFB Cornwallis, all new entries were required to double everywhere on base. Anyone not moving at double time would be admonished. A common expression used at the time was "Not me Chief, I'm Comm School." This term has carried forward through the years and is often used by someone that feels they should be exempt from a particular duty or tasking.

Notices to Mariners - A government publication issued regularly that contains all corrections and additions to chart information relating to navigable waters.

NPF - Non-Public Funds.

Number 1's - Dress uniform.

Number 5's - Working dress.

Number One - The Executive Officer.

Numpty - Someone who is not too intelligent.

Nun Buoy - A type of navigational buoy often cone shaped, but if not, always triangular in silhouette. Resembles a nun's hat.

Nutty Bars - Candy bars. This term was definitely borrowed from the USN.

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Jackspeak of the Royal Canadian Navy
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