Ship as an idiom


The word “ship” has some interesting uses as an idiom. Study these examples:

  1. “I will buy it when my ship comes home”.

This goes back to the time when many people used to earn a living (ganarse la vida) by transporting or importing goods by ship. They only had money when the ship came to port and they could sell the merchandise (mercancía). In Spanish perhaps the nearest equivalent would be “lo compraré cuando lleguen las vacas gordas”.

  1. “Is everything shipshape”? ¿Todo está en buen orden?
  2. “The rats are leaving the sinking ship”.

Rats are the first to know when a ship is going to sink, because they live in the lower part of the hold (la bodega). Nowadays, we use the saying to describe those people (often politicians) who desert (abandonar) their party because they think it is going to lose and they want to avoid responsibility for the fiasco (same word in English!).


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