The Meaning of Maritime Life

Meaning of Maritime Life ⚓Wife on a Boat

Weird morning thoughts often flit though my mind between my brain waking up and my eyes opening. The other morning I pondered the meaning of maritime life. And not in the existential sense, but the actual meaning and origin of the word maritime.

I’ve always accepted it meant something to do with being on or near water. In Canada, we have the maritime provinces on our East Coast. And in Vancouver there is the Maritime Museum which “is a maritime museum devoted to presenting the maritime history of Vancouver and the Canadian Arctic” – that’s a lot of maritimes.

But how did maritime and it’s cousin mariner come to mean things related to the sea?

Lying there, comfy in our v-berth, my high school French came back to me. I wondered maybe it had something to do with the French word mer – the sea? And if so, did the French word mer come from some Latin or Greek word?

And it is French and Latin!

According to maritime originated in 1250-1300 from Middle English and is an Anglo-French word coming from the Old French marinier. And further, the Latin word marinus (of the sea) is a derivative of mare (sea). Thus, maritime means connected or related to the sea.

As a surname

The Internet Surname Database‘s entry on the surname Mariner (also recorded as Marriner and Marner). Derived from that Old French word marinier, it’s an occupational surname. And those who study things like this believe it shows the influence on the English language by the Norman invaders after 1066.

The earliest recordings of the surname Mariner (and its derivatives) show up in the early 1200s. However, these early recordings came from counties no where near the usual seagoing activities. Therefore the writers at the Internet Surname Database believe, while the name was occupational, it described a travelling merchant, one who purchased his goods overseas.

So as opposed to being a sailor or seaman, the marinier did not work on the water but rather only traveled by sea. Therefore the term was a descriptive nickname.

So am I living the maritime life?

I suppose not if we go with the travelling merchant definition. While I often shop while we are cruising, I rarely resell anything when we return.

But the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a mariner as a person who navigates or assists in navigating a ship. So if we classify our Tollycraft 37 as a ship, then yes I’m a mariner.

The word has also occasionally been used to mean “explorer”. And it seems to have become synonymous with seaman, seafarer and other terms for those on boats.

So yes, I’m a mariner and living the maritime life!

And what about that French word la mer?

Turns out mer is from Middle French mer, from Old French mer which is from the Latin mare. And mare with a few more etymological descendants means sea.

I guess my early morning thoughts were right. And I’ve also learned that somewhere in his family tree, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, has a relative who traveled by sea to purchase his goods.

Stay safe and happy cruising!

Meaning of Maritime Life ⚓Wife on a Boat

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *