“Why are Boats Referred to as “She”?”
Connie asks: I am trying to find out why boats are
always referred to as the female gender.. When and why did this practice start?
According to Yarns of the Sea, Legends, Myths, and Superstitions : Although women were considered to bring bad luck at sea, mariners always use the pronoun “she” when referring to their ships. Whether its proper name is masculine, or whether it is a man o’war, a battleship, or a nuclear submarine, a ship is always referred to as “she.”
This old tradition is thought to stem from the fact that in the Romance languages, the word for “ship” is always in the feminine. For this reason, Mediterranean sailors always referred to their ship as “she”, and the practice was adopted over the centuries by their English-speaking counterparts.
One source suggests that a ship “was nearer and dearer to the sailor than anyone except his mother.” What better reason to call his ship “she”?
Thanks for the question, Connie!