Open main menu
See also: ablewhackets



Alternative formsEdit


Possibly from able, as in able seaman, and whack.


able whackets pl (plural only)

  1. (nautical slang, now historical) Blows on the hand from a knotted or twisted handkerchief, especially given as a punishment to the loser of certain card games. [from 18th c.]
    • 1905, John Masefield, Sea Life in Nelson's Time, IV:
      The chief amusement or game in use in the midshipmen's berth, was ‘able whackets’, a pastime in which cards, blasphemy, and hard knocks were agreeably mingled.
    • 2008, Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies, Penguin 2015, p.15:
      Instead of the usual sailors' games of cards and ablewhackets, there was the clicking of dice, with games of parcheesi unfolding on chequerboards of rope […].


  • Grose, Francis (1788) A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue[1], 2nd edition, page 1
  • Farmer, John Stephen (1890) Slang and Its Analogues[2], volume 1, page 6