Port and Starboard

What does Port and Starboard refer to, and more importantly, what was the nautical origin?

Ron and Greg, you are right.

The explanation we found:

Port and starboard are the left and right side of the ship, respectively. How did these names come about?

The starboard is actually the steering paddle or rudder, which in England was the back right of the ship, hence starboard = right. Originally, Larboard referred to the left side of the ship (the side the ship was loaded/unloaded on). These two words sounded too similar, particularly when shouted in a storm or battle, so larboard was abandoned and port began to be used, as referring to the side the port was on when loading/unloading cargo, or the left side of the ship. Use of the term “port” was officially adopted by the US Navy by General Order, February 18, 1846.


Washington, February 18, 1846

It having been repeatedly represented to the Department, that confusion arises from the use of the words “Larboard” and “Starboard,” in consequence of the similiarity of sound, the word “Port” is hereafter to be substituted for “Larboard.” GEORGE BANCROFT.

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