What Does “Batten Down the Hatches” Mean and Where Did the Naval Expression Come From?

“Batten down the hatches” is a traditional naval order to securely cover the openings or hatches to the hold on the deck of a sailing ship.

Batten is the key word and comes from the same root as the French word baton, like the one used by an orchestra conductor or in a relay race.

A batten is a strip of wood, which in this case was used to nail down a tarpaulin over the ship’s hatches during a storm.

what does batten down the hatches mean and where did the naval expression come from
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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.