shipshape and Bristol fashion
The saying in today's form has been recorded as early as 1827 (see the quotation; "shipshape" alone being about 200 years older).
The term may have developed in view of the port of Bristol which had (before the Floating Harbour was constructed) a very high tidal range of 13 metres (43 ft), the second highest in the world. Ships moored in this area would be aground at low tide and, because of their keels, would fall to one side. If everything was not stowed away tidily or tied down, the results were chaotic and cargo could be spoiled.
- (chiefly nautical, also figuratively) Tidily tied down and secure.
- 1827, [Walter Scott], chapter VII, in Chronicles of the Canongate; [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed [by Ballantyne and Co.] for Cadell and Co.; London: Simpkin and Marshall, OCLC 230674472, page 111:
- When we set out on the jolly voyage of life, what a brave fleet there is around us, as stretching our fresh canvas to the breeze, all "shipshape and Bristol fashion," pennons flying, music playing, cheering each other as we pass, we are rather amused than alarmed when some awkward comrade goes right ashore for want of pilotage!
- “Ship-shape and Bristol fashion” in Gary Martin, The Phrase Finder, 1997–.
- ^ “Shipshape and Bristol fashion”, in Oxford Reference, accessed 15 October 2018
- ^ “Severn Estuary Barrage”, in UK Environment Agency, 31 May 2006, archived from the original on 30 September 2007, retrieved 2007-09-03
- ^ “Coast: Bristol Channel”, in BBC, accessed 2007-08-27