Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Trivia: the Sea Dog and the Salty Dog

The Sea Dog & The Salty Dog

There have been dogs associated with the sea for centuries. Back more than 2,000 years ago, sea dogs helped fishermen bring in their catch. Experts estimate that these dogs might have been the ancestors of breeds such as the Portuguese Water Dog and the like.

A Portuguese Water Dog, in his element. Photo MGallow,
via Flickr, Creative Commons
But our modern terms “sea dog” or “salty dog” don’t date that far back. Their origin dates back to early 16th century England. And rather than a canine, a “sea dog” initially referred to a harbor seal.

Moving into the mid-1500s, the term came to be associated with disreputable sailors – privateers who preyed upon wealthy Spanish merchant ships. But that association took an interesting turn a little over a hundred years later.

Here's what happened:

Tensions were heating up between England and Spain toward the end of the 16th century, and war looked to be inevitable. So Queen Elizabeth decided to contract with a group of noblemen to turn the sea dogs into a military weapon.

She literally flipped the phrase’s meaning from bad to good by employing men like Sir Frances Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh (among others) to lead the Sea Dogs in a campaign of harassment against Spanish ships.

This culminated in a maritime battle in 1588 where the Spanish Armada was roundly defeated and British sea superiority was established.

Modern-day Sea Dog. Photo: NotSoNiceDuck, via Flickr Creative Commons
Still today, naval soldiers are often referred to as sea dogs. And a salty dog refers to a seasoned and experienced sea dog, one who has been onboard ship long enough for the sea salt to dry and accumulate on him – thus the “salty” sea dog.


From "Salt" has been used as a synonym for "experienced sailor" since the mid-1800s by allusion to salt water and the salt spray which covers everything aboard ship.
U.S. History online
Earliest documented use: 1598, according to
"Real Pirates don't wear the Jolly Roger"
Wikipedia: Salty Dog
The History Learning Site: U.K.
Write work: Sea Dogs, Puppets in a Political War

A Brief Review of Grammarly's Plagiarism Checker (and Grammar Tool)

I was offered a free trial of Grammarly's Plagiarism Checker (actually, they offer everyone a free 7 day trial), and it was fascinating to see how it handled today's post.

I received a score of 83 with only 4% considered unoriginal. The unoriginal part was the phrase, "toward the end of the 16th century". Something tells me I'm safe from copyright infringement on that! 

Here's a screen snap of the grammar issues it found:

It did seem to favor however over but. However, I think it kind of missed the context when it suggested I use "so" instead of "and"!

Overall, for the casual voice I use when blogging, I'm not sure the grammar checker was all that helpful. But I do like the idea of a plagiarism checker. As it stands today, there are far too copyright infringements on the internet, so having a tool that helps prevent this is nice.

I'm not sure how many people would be willing to pay $30/month for such a service, though. The price is reduced to $11.66/mo if you pay annually, so it would depend on how seriously you take your writing, I suppose! 

I decided to cancel after my free trial. But that's because I'm willing to do the research and legwork to make sure all my quotes are properly cited - and I'm willing to take the time to put a concept into my own words.

But still. For someone slaving over a 90+ page dissertation, this could be a useful tool to temporarily have on hand.


FTC Disclosure Statement: We were compensated for mentioning Grammarly's plagiarism checker, but we only post about things we believe in. And we really believe in copyright law and not stealing other people's work - even accidentally. So we give Grammarly 4 paws way up for this part of their service!


  1. interesting..... love the reference. which reminded mom - she saw a feature on tv about porties and there is a group in San Francisco that takes their dogs out on boats during baseball games to retrieve the balls that go over the stadium wall and into the water. cool huh?

  2. That is interesting how the term flipped from being bad to good. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. Interestin' stuff there.

    Hmmm... I wonder what Grammarly would think about my use of MOUSES!

    MOUSES! Grammarly got a red squiggly line from Blogger spell check but my MOUSES! passed with flyin' colours. Hehehe...


  4. doodz...grammy used ta give uz treetz then her quit, sew we asked de food serviss gurl ta give uz treetz N her quit sew now we hasta drive R selves two de store ta get treetz...

  5. We think the wild animals would appreciate a salty sea dog! Uh, as a salt lick and not as food. :p

  6. Mommy wants to know if a salty dog is also some kind of alcoholic drink? She thinks a whole lot of writers could really use that grammarly app (even if to know when to use "me" and when to use "I"). But the cost is ridiculous! For a student it would be great. Purrs and paw-pats, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  7. Interesting post pals. Hmm, I think we need to check out this Grammerly thingy. Well, on the other hand, maybe not - they might take away my bloggy!

  8. My human says thanks for the Grammarly link - she has bookmarked it!

  9. And to think...Glogirly thought a salty dog was nothing more than a sour cocktail!
    ; )

    Thanks for today's lesson!
    So we're wondering if there's a special Waffles-Settinig in Grammarly. Hmmmmm....

  10. What a fun word lesson today. We like that one, even if it is about dogs!

  11. That's real cool! It's too bad you have to pay month on a monthly basis. I am interested... I might consider it if I work on writing a book. Thanks for sharing it with us.


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