Sailing is when people steer a sail boat that is powered by the wind in some sort of race over a distance.
sailing idioms and sayings
Many idioms originated from sailing and here is a list of them with examples.
- all hands on deck
meaning – everyone is needed to help
example – The order has to be finished by Monday so it’s all hands on deck to complete it.
- get off to a flying start
meaning – make a successful start
example – My juice bar didn’t get off to a flying start, but it’s gaining popularity.
- go overboard
meaning – be too excessive/extreme
example – You’ve bought 16 bottles of wine for 5 people? You always go overboard.
- hit a snag
meaning – an unexpected problem/issue/difficulty
example – We’ve hit a snag. The car has broken down, I don’t think we’ll make it tonight.
- jump ship
meaning – leave an organisation and move to another
example – Did the CEO really jump ship or was he pushed?
- learn the ropes
meaning – learn the basic principles of a particular job/task/activity
example – I’ve been learning the ropes from my dad, he’s a good teacher.
- on an even keel
meaning – a calm/stable/balanced condition
example – I’ve been travelling the world for 2 years. I can’t wait to be back home on an even keel.
- plain sailing
meaning – smooth and easy
example – Our relationship hasn’t been plain sailing, but we love each other.
- sail close to the wind
meaning – do something risky/dangerous
example – Bruno has been sailing too close to the wind lately. He’ll be in prison before long.
- sail through
meaning – easily pass/win/succeed
example – I sailed through to the judges’ houses stage of X factor.
- second wind
meaning – another burst of energy to enable you to continue
example – I should have a second wind once I’ve eaten lunch.
- shape up or ship out
meaning – start improving/behaving or leave
example – My husband’s drinking is out of control. I told him to shape up or ship out.
- show someone the ropes
meaning – teach someone how to do a particular job/task/activity
example – I’ve spent three weeks showing her the ropes but she’s still useless.
- take the wind out of someone’s sails
meaning – make someone less confident
example – Lever has hit five aces in a row, he’s taken the wind out of Jackson’s sails.
- that ship has sailed
meaning – the opportunity has passed, it’s too late
example – That ship has sailed, I missed the deadline to submit my application.
sailing idioms and sayings with pictures
You can download a table of sailing idioms and sayings below.
If you’ve enjoyed this page, don’t forget to check out some more sports idioms by clicking on the links below.