Why boats have their wheels on the the right side

In reference to this article, I think you have to blame the Vikings for this.

Anyone know why the right hand side of a boats correct name is Starboard? Well, those marauding fellows designed their longboats etc with a bunch of oars along the sides, then one at the stern (you know, the blunt end, not the pointy end) on the right hand side. This was called (in English anyways, I’m afraid I don’t quite remember my Viking all that well, it’s a bit rusty) the Steering board. Shorten that a bit, ya got starboard. Incidently, they always used to tie up to the wharf with their port side (left hand side for all you landlubbers) so as not to damage this.

Us mariners being such lovers of tradition, it wouldn’t really surprise me that this was still the reason why it’s over there.

Edited to fix link – CKDex

It’s styrbord in Swedish.

www.word-detective.com agrees with you, Planeray. Here are a couple of other theories about the origins of the terms “port” and “starboard”:


A side note: I keep running across the claim that the word “POSH” was originally an acronym stamped on boat tickets standing for “Port Out, Starboard Home.” Story goes that this is where the most expensive berths were located on ships, because they were protected from direct sun. Supposedly this is why Posh now means elegant and rich. As appealing as this theory is, apparently it’s bunk.

Also, this seems to work only for ships starting in the US and going to England/Europe. To be protected from direct sunlight in the northern hemisphere, you’d want to be on the north side of the ship, i.e. port when heading east, starboard when heading west.

(yeah, I realize that it would also work for ships going from eastern Asia to North America, South America to Australia, or Africa going in either direction, depending on which side of the equator is involved, but any of those wouldn’t be involved with English etymologies)

In any case, the idea of that origin for “posh” is total crap.

Generally speaking, acronym words (like FUBAR for “f***ed up beyond all recognition”) didn’t arise until well into the 1900s. Any word with earlier appearances almost certainly did not arise as an acronym.

Yeah, they call them backronyms. Fubar is quite possibly one of them.

I wonder if constructions like “Delmarva” and “Texarkana” were the forerunners of modern acronyms (which just use the initial letters). I have zero evidence for this (see my pitiful attempt to delve into the history of “Delmarva” at http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=111167 ), but it seems plausible (and, of course, that alone probably makes it etymologically suspect…).