Anchors Aweigh

Meaning of “Anchors Aweigh”

The phrase “anchors aweigh” is specifically used for ships when they are prepared to leave. An anchor is a device used on ships when they are made to stay at the harbor. However, when they are prepared to leave the port, the captain ensures that the anchors are pulled back and placed at the right place. Therefore, it is called “anchors aweigh,” which means the ship is prepared to leave the port or harbor. In other words, “aweigh” means to pull up. When an anchor is pulled up and placed on the deck, this act is noted down in the logbook to make the crew alert that now the ship is free to go.

Origin of “Anchors Aweigh”

The evolution of this phrase is stated to have emerged from marine jargons. It is believed that John Smith has used a similar phrase in A Sea Grammar published in 1627 which shows this phrase “What is the Anchor away” which means whether the anchor has been lifted or not.

William Henry Smyth, a naval officer, who also compiled a nautical dictionary titled ‘The Sailor’s Word-Book’ and published in 1867 has mentioned this term. It goes,

“The anchor is a-trip, or a-weigh, where the purchase has just made it break ground, or raised it clear. Sails are a-trip when they are hoisted from the cap [a thick block of wood], sheeted home, and ready for trimming.”

However, in literature appears in Dryden’s The Tempest published in 1670 in which it is discussed between Trinculo and Stephano.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Anchors Aweigh by Saiom Shriver

The breaking of the day
Light over the sea
makes its way.
Wind counterpoints
the ‘anchors aweigh!’
as it fills our sails
from across the bay
takes us blissfully away

Saimo Shriver is an Ohio based American poet who has written many poems. This poem, with the title of this phrase, shows a simple thought of drifting into the vastness of the sea through the course of the wind. However, it does not happen unless “anchors aweigh”. It means the preparation of the ship to move away from the port and continue its blissful journey.

Example #2

Anchors Aweigh – United States Marine Band

Stand Navy out to sea,
Fight our battle cry
We’ll never change our course,
So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT,
Anchors Aweigh.
Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Anchors Aweigh, my boys,
Anchors Aweigh.

Farewell to foreign shores,
We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night ashore,
Drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more.
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.
Blue of the mighty deep
Gold of God’s great sun.

Let these our colors be
Till all of time be done, done, done, done.
On seven seas we learn
Navy’s stern call
Faith, courage, service true,
With honor, over honor, over all.

Written by Alfred H Miles and his colleagues and sung by the United States Marine Band, this lyric shows the excellent use of this phrase. The song is sung to praise the courageous American marines who sail out and win battles for the United States. It has been used twice in the text. Once as a simple phrase and second time as a call for preparation to move away from harbors.

Example #3

Anchors Aweigh by Norman Edward Robinson, Sarah E. Weber

Anchors Aweigh is a biography of Norman Edward Robinson who was 9th grade English teacher. He joined the American navy and participated in different naval voyages as well as battles during WWII. The story is also a love tale as his fiancée waited for him for years. Although it is a family and love saga, it also gives glimpses of his naval career which sheds light on the protagonist’s life as a naval officer.

Example #4

Anchors AWeigh  – directed by George Sidney

This is a musical comedy released in the United States in 1945 starring Kathryn Grayson and Frank Sinatra with songs form Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. It is the story of two sailors who go to the Hollywood shore for enjoyment and meet a boy and his sister. Later, they try to arrange an audition at a studio. The film features various other actors including Jose Iturbi. The central theme of the comedy is to move up in life instead of “anchors aweigh” in nautical terminology for the preparation of the ships to leave the ports and docks.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “When anchors aweigh, the harbors become empty. That’s not always a pretty sight.”

Example #2: “When the ship wasn’t moving. The captain ordered the sailor to check if the anchor was aweigh.”

Example #3: “When the captain cries ‘anchors aweigh’ it becomes a rallying cry for all the crew to leave the harbor.”

Example #4: “You can keep worrying about your future and sit here your whole life. Or you can say to yourself ‘anchors aweigh’ and move on.”

Example #5: “By this time, our last anchor was aweigh, and the ship was clear of the bottom. – The Pirates’ Chronicles: Greatest Sea Adventure Books & Treasure Hunt Tales”