- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əˈvɑːst/
- (General American) IPA(key): /əˈvæst/
Audio (AU) (file)
- Rhymes: -æst, -ɑːst
- (nautical) hold fast!; desist!; stay!.
- 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 17, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, OCLC 57395299, page 93:
- “I don’t allow it; I won’t have my premises spoiled. Go for the locksmith, there’s one about a mile from here. But avast!” putting her hand in her side-pocket, “here’s a key that’ll fit, I guess; let’s see.”
- 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Mucker, HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2009:
- "Avast there!" cried the captain, and as though to punctuate his remark he swung the heavy stick he usually carried full upon the back of Billy's head.
- (slang, in imitation of pirates) listen!; pay attention!
- Avast, ye landlubbers!
- “Avast hauling!” (meaning, “stop hauling”) is (or was, in 1950) still commonly used in U.S. Navy deck operations.
- The slang use in imitation of pirate talk is based on a misconstruction of the meaning. If uttered by a historical sailor, the meaning of the sentence “Avast, ye Matey” would have been, “Desist, you novice seamen”.