How Ships Became Called “Her” and “She”

Christopher Columbus, the man credited with discovering The New World, gave humanity a different view of exploration and a new vocabulary in reference to ships.

In 1479, Christopher began building a ship, to be named Filipa, which was his wife’s name. The ship was a large undertaking – two massive decks, four sturdy masts, and an almost over-sized cargo hold. The immensity of the ship was breathtaking in scope.

A painting of either Christopher Columbus or his wife; historians are unsure.

Throughout the last half of the project, Filipa (Christopher’s wife) began to work more out of the home and have less time to cook for herself and Christopher. On the way back from work she would often run by the store and pick up a bucket of fried chicken. This steady diet began to take a toll on her as she quickly gained over seventy pounds in just three months. Christopher, being the patient man he was, took this in stride and made light of it.

Filipa was large, powerful, and sturdy – much like the ship.

At the shipyard, Christopher began to affectionately liken the ship to his ballooning wife, often referring to the ship as either “her” or “she.” Because of how influential Columbus was upon the world, the use of those two words became more and more prevalent among those who worked with ships.

It is said that the ghost of Christopher Columbus can still be heard in Italian shipyards saying, “I need a hand up here! We need to steer her around!” Christopher would often say that as he walked through the shipyard, pushing Filipa along in her wheelchair.

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1 Response to “How Ships Became Called “Her” and “She””


  1. 1 Irate but Amused July 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I find your site to be boldly disrespectful toward people who worked to make your life better. The disrespect shown toward Columbus, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, among others is unparalleled in its audacity.

    However, I have found myself coming back to this site and laughing every time even though I know I shouldn’t be. It feels disrespectful to these great people – yet, somehow it also feels liberating to break from the stale mold of traditional history.

    Thanks, I guess.
    Irate


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