Ever wondered why in the world is the highest deck on the back of a ship is called a Poop deck? Many people have wrong ideas about it, as they derive the meaning by a word in its name- “Poop,” of course, why else it would be called a Poop deck, right? Well, wrong, it has nothing to do with bodily waste. We don’t want you to get any wrong ideas there, so we went on to find the answer for you. Read on to know the actual reason behind it.
Like most of the English language, the word “Poop” in a nautical context is derived from Latin. Specifically, it comes from the Latin word “puppis” meaning “the stern of a ship.” Interestingly, “Puppis” is also the name of constellation representing the stern of the mythological Greek Ship Argo.
Fast-forward to the 15th century when the Middle English put their own spin on puppis by calling it “pouppe” which was first used in a 1489 translation of a French author Christine de Pizan’s book which says “..the pouppe which is the hinder most part of the ship.”
Finally, the first-known use of the term poop deck, as we know it in modern English was in William Sutherland’s 1717 book “Britain’s Glory: Or, Ship-Building Unvail’d.” So, to recap, “Poop deck” comes from a Middle English translation of a Middle French term, which was derived from Latin.
Sadly, most modern ships don’t have what you would technically call a poop deck anymore since the upper-most rear, or the stern was where the ship’s wheel used to be located — in the rear of the ship, near the rudder — in order to reduce the number of pulleys and ropes needed for steering. The poop deck was elevated so the captain and pilot would have a clear view over the front of the ship. Well, the modern ships have changed a lot from the ships of yesteryear.
Here is a detailed video on this interesting subject: