Why is it called the POOP deck?

Lots of ships have a deck called the “poop deck.” What’s up with THAT? Was it originally the bathroom?

What exactly does it mean?

It comes from the latin word puppis, which means just what it is – an enclosed deck at the stern of a ship.

I believe that the more down-to-earth “poop,” along with the always popular “kaka,” comes to us from the Dutch pappekak, which means soft poop. (It’s anglicized as “poppycock.”)

The common association that both senses of “poop” share with the hind parts is coincidental.

The poop deck, an elevated deck at the stern of a ship, comes from the Latin puppis, meaning “stern.”

The other meaning of poop is fairly recent. At about the time that poop (as pouppe) was entering the nautical language, the word poop also appeared as an onomatopoeic synonym for toot, to make a small, explosive sound, as to poop or toot on a horn. The two words travelled their separate but parallel paths for several centuries. The meaning of “sound” was also applied (perhaps ironically) to the sound of a gun firing. Later, the nautical term came to be applied to the “back end” of anything–including animals or people. Then, in the nineteenth century, the word appears to have conflated the meanings of a sound and the back end and came to represent a fart. Finally, and only in the middle of the 20th century, it moved from simply the noise at he back end to the product produced with the noise at the back end–originally as a child’s euphemism.

On older sailing ships, the place for emptying one’s bowels or bladder was not at the stern, but at the bow (at least for the crew–the officers used chamber pots). The seat for doing one’s business was a hole cut in the beaks-head (the small section of ship projecting out from the bow, where the waves could wash away the product), giving rise to the naval term “head” for the toilet.