lose the number of one's mess

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

lose the number of one's mess

  1. (nautical, idiomatic) To die, to perish.
    • 1870, W.H.G. Kingston, From Powder Monkey to Admiral:
      "What do you think we come to sea for? If we can take a man-of-war of our own size she's worth half a dozen merchant craft, though, to be sure, some of us may lose the number of our mess; but we all know that, and make no count of it."
    • 1880, J.C. Hutcheson, Fritz and Eric:
      Shore folk think sailors are heartless, and that when a poor chap is lost overboard, they only say that "So-and-so has lost the number of his mess!" and, after having an auction over his kit in the fo'c's'le, then dismiss him from their memory!
    • 1993, Patrick O'Brian, The wine-dark sea:
      "And then before the mast, there was poor John Proby, who lost the number of his mess two days out of Callao."