The Yacht – The Meaning and the Origin of the Word

In my language there are a few words for a floating object or a vessel. According to the size and the purpose of the vessel, those words could be translated as “dinghy”, “boat” or “ship”. Some types of vessels have international names, for example “catamaran” or “hovercraft”.

However, when you say “yacht” in my language, everyone know exactly what it is about. The word “yacht”, unlike other terms, has certain connotations. It is always linked with something classy, fancy, wealthy, elegant, and even glamorous.

For example, if you say that you have spent a week aboard a sailing boat, the recations of people will be more or less neutral. On the other hand, if you say that your week aboard a yacht was excellent, many people will become jealous. They will imagine you in a scene from a James Bond movie: aboard a massive white yacht moored in Monte Carlo, having a cold martini (shaken, not stirred)…

I wanted to share with you this language introduction because I found an interesting story about the word “yacht” and its origin. The word “yacht” became an English and an international term after an event that happened a long time ago.

This word comes from the Dutch word “jacht”, which means “hunt”. Furthermore, “jachtschepen” was the name for narrow, light and very fast sailing boats that the Dutchmen used for intercepting larger and slower boats and ships.

One of the ‘hunters’ was given as a present to the British king Charles II. In His Majesty’s free time this vessel was not used for intercepting. Instead, it was used for fun. That is why the word “yacht” eventually became the term for vessels/boats made for pleasure.

I would highly appreciate comments from the native speakers of the English and Dutch languages, especially since I am not one of them. No matter whether this story is true or not, it still sounds interesting to me.

I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!

Janko

Janko

Janko is a professional skipper in love with writing. Our most prolific blogger, he has sailed the Adriatic from the north to the south. With an incredibly broad array of interests, Janko is an expert in a variety of topics, all of which he delivers to our readers in a clear, imaginative and often humorous manner.

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1 Response

  1. Mary says:

    I looked up the origin of the word yacht, and it said it is a mid 16th century, Early Modern Dutch word from ‘jaght,’ from ‘jaghtschip’ meaning “fast pirate ship,” from ‘jaght’ which means “hunting” + ‘schip’ meaning “ship”.

    I like the story of King Charles. It makes sense that that is why a yacht has the definite aura of wealth and pleasure!

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