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See also: jack-tar and Jack Tar


Alternative forms[edit]


From Jack, a common name for a sailor, plus tar, used to waterproof sails as well as the seams between planks on wooden ships (1781). Sailors also used tar for clothing, grooming: their coats and hats, were made of the waterproof fabric called tarpaulin; seamen commonly plaited their long hair into a pigtail and smeared it with high grade tar to prevent it getting caught in the ship's equipment, a practice that continued until the early 20th century. Often a sailor's hands would be stained with tar.


jacktar (plural jacktars)

  1. (Britain) Nickname for a sailor in the Royal Navy.