Navy terminology: why left is port and right is starboard?


It seems that the naming is closely related to the way people would navigate with early ships where they used paddles. Port was used instead of backboard to not be confused with starboard. Left side was called backboard, because it was used to anchor in ports to load packages through it. Starboard comes from the fact that the vessels has the steering on the right side instead of the center.

3 Responses to “Navy terminology: why left is port and right is starboard?”

  1. The origin is Dutch : stuurboord and bakboord. Yes ealier a big paddle on the right side of boat was used as rudder. Hence the Dutch name is refering to the side of the paddle (NL : stuur, old NL stier). The helmsman was face this big paddle on the right side. Therefore the left side of the boat was back him, on the side of his back. I am Frenchman, not a linguist but a wildlife biologist, in Alpes. But here (Drôme département) Dutch is in summer the second language after French. Moreover my youngster son’s mother is Dutch.

  2. Choisy Jean-Pierre Reply 18. Nov, 2015 at 22:25

    I wish to correct my previous text ; ” The helmslan was facing” not “was face”.