Pirate Slang

All you need to know about pirates and captains of the Golden Age of Pirates.

They were called captains; the flamboyant leaders who steered their ships across the vast waters of the oceans, but did you know that the word “captain” in a technical sense didn’t really exist for the Royal Navy during the golden age of pirates. The captain of a naval ship was called either post-captain, master & commander or a lieutenant. Each of these rankings has a particular ship under his belt to maneuver and manage.

Ships that are classified as first to sixth ranked were the ones headed by a post-captain while a master & commander had a sloop under his leadership. Those that were smaller than sloops, like a brig or a gun brig, were headed by a lieutenant. All these rankings were summarized to what is known as the “captain of the ship.” Merchant ships don’t call it as such, but referred to its chief as the master and is addressed by his men by the short word of “sir”. Pirate ships also had their captains whose basic role is the main strategist in effectively capturing other ships.

Pirate Captains

Pirate ships chose their captain through a voting process of the council that was formed by the ship’s crew. Being popular was not the basis of the council’s selection of a worthy captain, instead the skills, capabilities and overall wizardry of the pirate’s looting techniques were what counted most. He was expected to know how to strategize to avoid capture and to get the most loot.

Masters and naval captains had the sole authority to look after all the things that concern the affairs of their ship whereas a pirate captain’s authority was limited to leading and commanding the ship during battle, looting and chasing enemy vessels, the rest was democratic. No special privileges were attached to being a pirate captain, except a bigger portion of the loot and perhaps better living conditions.