Dictionary Review


Author: Pietro del Rosso
Publisher: Witherby Seamanship International, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Publication date: 2014 (1st edition: 2011) Number of pages and entries: 409 pages, about 6000 entries
Price: £20.00 ($33.48)
ISBNs: Book ISBN 978-1-85609-639-3
  eBook ISBN: 978-1-85609-640-9
Available from: Witherby Publishing Group
4 Dunlop Square
Deans Estate, Livingston
Edinburgh UK EH54 8SB
E: info@emailws.com
Specialty/field: Seafaring

The Dictionary of Maritime Terms (DMT) is a 7 in. by 4-3/4 in. paperback, printed on acid free paper and illustrated with an estimated 600 black and white photographs and drawings. The illustrations are small but high-resolution and the 2-column format with boldfaced headwords is highly readable. The DMT English-Italian section covers 141 pages. It is separated from the Italian-English listing by 65 pages of acronyms (some 3000 entries). The dictionary per se is followed by a table of irregular English verbs and a 56 page Appendix, which contains basically everything, including ship schematics, the Saffir/Simpson hurricane scale, casting off and steering orders, flags of the international code of signals, ship signage, the IMDG [International Maritime Dangerous Goods] code, and the ranks in the Navy, to name just a few categories.

Considering the wealth of material contained in this compact dictionary, it seems useful to start with the word listing of the World Shipping Council (WSC) [http://www. worldshipping.org/about-the-industry/glossary-of-industry-terms] and to check it against the following gold standards:

  • Brodie, P.R.. Dictionary of Shipping Terms. E-I.* London (611 Broadway, Suite 523, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A.):Lloyd's of London Press, Ltd., 1988
  • Bernabò Silorata, M & Picchi, F (BSP). Dizionario di Marina. I-E* Salerno (Cava dei Tirreni): Di Mauro Editore, 1970
  • P.I.A.N.C. Illustrated Technical Dictionary. I-E-F-D-S-Du*. Bruxelles (155, r. de la Loi, 4 B): PIANC, 1967.
  • Segditsas, P.E. (SPE). Nautical Dictionary. E-F-I-S-D* Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing Co., 3 vols., 1965.
  • Papagno, Domenico; Guidetti, Armando (PDGA) . Dizionario Tecnico Marittimo Commerciale. E-I. Milan (v. Comelico 24, 20135): Pirola Editore, 1986

The results are expressed in tabular form as follows:

Bill of lading (B/L) Polizza di carico
a1 a1 a1
Brake Potenza al freno
Break hull Groupage / carico frazionato
Buulk cargo Carico alla rinfusa
Carrier Vettore a2 b4
Charter rate Rata di nolo
CO2 emission Emissioni di CO2
Container Container a3 b2
Container terminal Terminal per container
FEU <=> [Forty-foot Equivalent Unit]
Freight rate Tariffa di nolo b3
Gantry crane Gru a ponte a4 a4
Intermodalism Intermodalismo
Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
International Maritime Organization (IMO)
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code)
Knot Nodo
Maiden voyage Viaggio inaugurale
Manifest Manifesto
Pallet <=>
Reefer Container frigorifero <=> b1
Shipper Caricatore
TEU <=> [Twenty foot Equivalent unit] a5
US Customs - Trade Partner Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) <=>
Vessel Nave
World Customs Organization (WCO) <=>
TOTAL S/% 28 17/61% 13/46% 7/25% 10/36% 19/68% 21/75%
a1As cassa.
a2As trasportatore.
a3As contenitore.
a4As cavalletto. a5Only as
contenitore equivalente a venti piedi. b1As nave frigorifera.
b2As contenente
b3As tassa di nolo
b4As nave da trasporto.

This brief comparison highlights some of the DMT strengths, namely its completeness, especially in terms of acronyms and the shipping business. Nevertheless, the World Shipping Council word listing tells us little about what's missing in del Rosso's impressive recueil. In fact, only a targeted reading reveals that the DMT focus on current vessels and maritime practices has been maintained at the expense of sailing technologies and terminology. While DMT lists all seven anchor components (fuso, ceppo, cicala, diamante, marra, palma, and unghia or shank, stock, ring, crown, arm or fluke, blade and bill or pea), the same cannot be said about rigging in general. Out of 28 possible rigging variations presented by BSP, DMT includes only the following:
Italian English DMT
Dinghy Dinghy
Bilancella Seiner
Sloop Sloop
Tartana Tartan
Navicello Periagua
Feluca Feluca
Bovo Boovo
Yawl Yawl
Ketch Ketch
Trabaccolo Lugger
Sciabecco Xebec
Valacciere Sicilian coaster
Lugro Lougre
Goletta Schooner
Bombarda Bomb-Ketch
Brigantino goletta Brig
Goletta a palo Tern schooner
Nave goletta Barquetine *
Brigantino a palo Park
Nave Square rigger
Nave a palo Four-masted bark
Nave a 4 alberi Four-masted square rigger
Nave a 5 alberi Five-masted asquare rigger
Nave a 5 alberi a palo Five-masted bark
Goletta 6 alberi Six-masted schooner
TotalS/% 28
* Wrongly named "schooner"

While "Clipper" is present (albeit translated as veliero veloce or fast sailship), only 15 masts and yards are listed, whereas the BSP offers 38 variations. To be fair, these absences are fully justified by the dictionary focus on today's maritime realities. DMT is not a maritime encyclopedia. It was intended as a working tool for the men and women involved in current maritime activities. As such, it is uniquely valuable and ranks with the very best references. DMT is accurate (I found only one typo: a dubious "to make water" or imbarcare acqua instead of "to take water") and exhaustive. Those of us who work with ships and admiralty law should not do without it and even the generalists can profit from its broad coverage of maritime matters. I highly recommend it.