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Dead Marine

From The Great War 1914-1918

Dead Marine: An empty bottle. A "Marine" or "Dead Marine" used in the days of hard drinking to be an accepted synonym for an empty bottle. William IV., when Duke of Clarence and Lord High Admiral, at an official dinner, is related to have said to a waiter, pointing to some empty bottles, "Take away those marines!" An elderly Major of Marines present rose and said: "May I respectfully ask why your Royal Highness applies the name of the Corps to which I have the honour to belong to an empty bottle?" The Duke, with the unfailing tact of his family, saved the situation. "I call them marines because they are good fellows who have done their duty and are ready to do it again!" According to Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, under the word "Marine Officer," the following libellous explanation is given: "An empty bottle: A Marine Officer being held useless by the seamen." [1]

References / notes

  1. Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.73.
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