Aarrrgh is one of the defining words in our common psyche when we think of pirates. My wife says two mature, normal grown-ups can’t help but smile when they utter that word to each other. You can be a pirate aficionado, a parrothead with 50 years of partying and pirating under your sash, or just plain nuts like me, but the response will always be the same when someone greets you with “Aarrrgh!”
I don’t know why that is. As Johnny Depp says, “Enjoy the ride while it lasts.” Don’t question the gift of Aarrgh when someone brightens your day with one.
I taught school for over 37 years, and it’s the one word that’s practically impossible to misspell though I know a few people who would come close. Despite what you think and what you’ve seen in the dozens of pirate books you’ve read, there really is no one way to spell Aarrrgh.
Here are some of the more common ways. Aarrrgh! Aaarr! Arrrr! Arrr! Arrrgh! For the sake of consistency, I’m using Arr, though there are times when Arrgh is better.
Some historians assert that pirates never once uttered the word Aarrgh or anything like it. They assert that the word is a Hollywood device that can be traced back to Long John Silver in the story Treasure Island. I don’t think they would argue their point so loud if they were looking down the barrel of a Caribbean pirate’s cannon, or dancing a jig at the end of a pirate sword.
The fact is, many pirates were Irish, Welsh, and English. All three spoke with distinct accents that gave Aarrrgh a delightful flavor. Count among Welsh pirates, Henry Morgan, the inspiration behind Captain Morgan rum, and Black Bart aka Bartholomew Roberts. I don’t think a lot of people reading this would have wanted to sail on Roberts’ ship. He preferred to drink tea instead of rum.
Captain William Kidd was Scottish. I think his Aarrgh would have been as good as anyone’s in history. Blackbeard and Edward England were both English as was Calico Jack Rackham though his shipmate the notorious Anne Bonny was born in County Cork, Ireland. Anne delighted in revealing her breast to the men she conquered. Talk about wild Irish lasses! That alone deserves an Aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!
That’s not to say there weren’t French, Spanish, and Dutch pirates. Boy, there were plenty of those too. But I just don’t know how you can put a French or Dutch accent on Aarrrgh! Awkward!!!
The following are thirty pirate riddles with the word Aarrr in the answer. I have no doubt even Henry Morgan, if he sobered up long enough, would surely be amused. Ready or not, here they Arrr!
1.How do pirates like their eggs?
2. Where in the Caribbean do pirates go for vacation?
3. What’s a pirate’s favorite game fish?
4. Why was the pirate voted most valuable player in baseball?
Because he had the most Arrr BI’s.
5. What happened to the movie about pirates who plundered a ship with scantily clad wenches?
It was raided Arrr!
6. What music do pirates listen to?
Arrr and B
7. What’s a pirate’s favorite musical instrument?
8. What was the pirate’s explosive secret weapon?
9. What were pirates doing in the dollar store?
Looking for a b-arrr-gain.
10. What do pirates like to smoke after a day of pillaging and wenching?
11. What does a pirate do after brushing his teeth?
He g-arrr-gles with rum.
12. What did Blackbeard do when fuses got hopelessly tangled in his beard?
He went to a b-arrr-ber.
13. What do pirates like inscribed on their tombstone?
Arrr I P
14. Why didn’t the pirate say anything at his own trial?
Because there was no use in Arrr-guing with the judge.
15. Why did the pirate interrupt the band in the middle of the song?
He didn’t like the Arrr-angement.
16. What famous pirate appeared in Star Wars?
Arrr 2 D 2.
17. What’s a pirate’s favorite part of the boardwalk?
18. What do you call a muscular pirate with a German accent?
19. What vegetable does a cook never serve on a pirate ship?
20. Why did the pirate drink unsweetened iced tea?
He didn’t like Arrr-tificial sweeteners.
21. Where do pirates hold their tailgate party before a night of plundering?
In the p-arrr-king lot.
22. What TV show do pirates like to watch when they get up in the morning?
23. What job did the pirate volunteer for on Thanksgiving Day?
C-arrr-ving the turkey.
24. Why was the pirate limping?
25. How do pirates spend their Saturday mornings?
They go to yarrr-d sales.
26. If God is a pirate, what’s the first thing he’s going to ask to see when you reach heaven?
27. What kind of toilet paper do pirates use?
28. What’s the smelliest part of a pirate?
His Arrr-m pit.
29. Who was the best pirate to ever play golf?
30. What did God tell Noah to do when he turned pirate?
Start building an Arrr-k.
How about you? I bet there’s a little pirate in you yearning to break free. What arrr you waiting for? Let me hear your best aarrr jokes.
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The Uncommon Mariner