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  1. #1
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    Question shiver my timber

    Hi there,

    would you please tell me the meaning of this expression?


    "shiver my timber"

    All the best,

  2. #2
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    Default Re: shiver my timber

    "Shiver me timbers" is the usual rendering, and it's something that a stereotypical priate is supposed to say.

    Exactly what it means is unclear, but in the days of old, ships were made of timber -- which is to say, wood. Perhaps it has something to do with the way a small ship shudders when hit by a large wave.

    The expression denotes mild shock or surprise. It was used by Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic book Treasure Island, where Long John Silver says, "So! Shiver me timbers, here's Jim Hawkins!"

    Later, many writers and filmmakers based their portrayal of pirates on the character Long John Silver, and this phrase has become very well-known. Indeed, it's now a cliché.

  3. #3
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: shiver my timber

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    ...
    Exactly what it means is unclear, but in the days of old, ships were made of timber -- which is to say, wood. Perhaps it has something to do with the way a small ship shudders when hit by a large wave.
    ...
    I believe the "timbers" referred to here are the heavier, stronger, structural parts of a wooden ship. So it didn't have to be a small ship, or anything as innocuous as a wave. A many-masted galleon had timbers, and they would shiver if the ship hit anything - a wave, a rock, another ship, a harbour wall ...

    I agree with what you say about the expression being one of surprise, and a cliché.

    b

  4. #4
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    Default Re: shiver my timber

    Thanks a bounch for your reply.
    Last edited by 1364; 13-Oct-2006 at 05:36.

  5. #5
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: shiver my timber

    While the allusion is to a ship, miiiiight it not be a reference to a person's own timbers, ie. his skeleton.

  6. #6
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    Wink Re: shiver my timber

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    While the allusion is to a ship, miiiiight it not be a reference to a person's own timbers, ie. his skeleton.
    Well ,you mean that he uses this expression because of his fear! it could be,but is "timber" the same as "skeleton" ?

    Best regards,

  7. #7
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    Default Re: shiver my timber

    Quote Originally Posted by 1364 View Post
    Well ,you mean that he uses this expression because of his fear! it could be,but is "timber" the same as "skeleton" ?
    Best regards,
    No it's not. But as the timbers of a ship are the structural part, the link with skeleton is quite possible.

    I've never heard it in the singular though. Was the speaker you heard it from a native speaker of English?

    b

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