WEDNESDAY WONDER: Why are all ships referred to as "she"?

Even with a name like "Titanic", why do we assign gender to a boat?

October 26, 2018

Titanic was back in the news this week.  Titanic 2!  Yep.  The $500 million project is back on and will set sail in 2022, sailing on the same course as the ill-fated cruise liner back in 1912. 



Thank goodness global warming took care of those icebergs, so that shouldn't be a problem this time around...

Seeing this got me thinking and made me wonder, why do we always refer to a boat as "She"?  

Even with a masculine or neutral name, boats are always referred to as 'she'.  

Used to be, waaaay back in the day, it was considered bad luck if a woman was on a boat.  We're talking way back before men were willing to admit how badass women are.  So even with that, why did it become a maritime tradition to give an inanimate object a gender?  

In most languages, words have genders.  For example, in Spanish, masculine words begin with "el" and end with an "o" and feminine words begin with "la" and end in an "a".   

Masculine:  El Niño

Feminine:  La Niña

Make sense, right?  

Some say it's because the Latin word for ship, "navis" is feminine, BUT - we get the word "table" from the Latin word "tabula", also feminine, yet we don't think of a table as a "she"...or maybe you are like my wife and I, and you name things, and you named your table Jessica.  But we're a weird bunch...and I digress...

The most plausible reason I could find is that "she" is a sign of a woman, being a mother.  Bringing comfort and protection, some traits that you definitely want when getting inside a vessel that will take you on water, where you might DROWN if things don't go right.  So it just kind of stuck.  They started referring to ships as "she", and the tradition stuck around and was passed down from generation to generation.  Doesn't it just sound better to sit back and look at a boat like this:

Now say out loud to yourself both of these phrases: 

Damn - isn't she beautiful?   Or  "Damn - isn't he sexy"

See?  The male version just comes off as creepy...and weird.  Right?  

Plus, if it comes down to it - I'd rather have a woman around when the ship hits the fan. See what I did there?