What Is the Origin of the Saying "To Splice the Main Brace"?
The main brace was a long and heavy rope, several inches in diameter, used to trim the main yard on which hung the main sail. If it broke, or was shot away in battle, it had to be unreeved from its blocks, brought down on deck and spliced together. This was heavy and highly skilled work and was rewarded with an extra tot of rum. The order "Splice the Mainbrace" later came to mean that all the crew were awarded a tot on a special occasion, a victory for example or a royal visit. For example, on the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended WW1 on the 28th June 1919, the order "Splice the Main Brace" was given throughout the fleet.
A Competing Theory (Not Wholly Viable)
To splice the main brace means to celebrate (with a drink). It is a nautical term from the time of sailing ships. Sailors who risked climbing the highest rigging (the main brace) to adjoin ropes (splicing) were rewarded with extra rum.
Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.
Download a Free Grammar Checker Download Grammarly's app to help with eliminating grammar errors and finding the right words.
(The Grammarly app works with webmail, social media, and texting apps as well as online forms and Microsoft Office documents like Word.)
Self Help: Buy Our Book
"Smashing Grammar" (2019) Written by the founder of Grammar Monster, "Smashing Grammar" includes a glossary of grammar essentials (from apostrophes to zeugma) and a chapter on easily confused words (from affect/effect to whether/if). Each entry starts with a simple explanation and basic examples before moving to real-life, entertaining examples. All entries conclude with a section highlighting why the grammar point is relevant for a writer and top-level bullet points summarizing the entry. [More…]
"Grammar for Grown-ups" (2011) Vocational rather than academic, "Grammar for Grown-ups" is packed with real-life examples and keeps you engaged with a wealth of great quotations from Homer the Greek to Homer the Simpson. Straight talking and methodical, Craig Shrives draws on his years compiling Grammar Monster and as an army officer to present a comprehensive but light-hearted and easily digestible grammar reference guide. [More…]