Port does indeed indicate the side of the ship meant to go alongside the jetty. Before there were overhead cranes, long shoreman, stevedores or sea containers, ships were designed with one side optimized for embarking / disembarking cargo. As cargo was handled by the ship's crew, this was an important design element for the time. For starboard just think stearboard. Stearboard is the side opposite to port. The stearing board (rudder) was mounted on this side to prevent damage when proceeding alongside a jetty. Its all starting to make sense, right? There have been many volumes written on nautical terminology and some of the older ones are available online. Jackspeak is my favourite branch of this area of english slang. It is amazing how many of the expressions we use everyday originated as 'Jackspeak'. Rick Jolly has published several excellent Royal Navy versions of his Jackspeak dictionary. :thumb: examples of Jackspeak Chummy - Generic slang for an object which has no official nautical name. (ed: A sailor is always practical and never at a loss for words.) Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey - In the days of sailing ships, cannon balls were often stacked in what was called a "monkey", usually made of brass. When the weather got really cold the monkeys, being brass, would contract at a different rate than the iron of the cannonballs, forcing the cannon balls to fall to the ship's deck. Son of a gun - When in port, and with the crew restricted to the ship for any extended period of time, wives and ladies of easy virtue often were allowed to live aboard along with the crew. Infrequently, but not uncommonly, children were born aboard, and a convenient place for this was between guns on the gun deck.