Meaning: between, in the middle, middle
Greek, Latin, Italian (μεσσος, medius, mezzana)
from L. medius "middle," from PIE *medhjo-, from base *me- "between" (cf. Skt. madhyah, Avestan madiya- "middle," Gk. messos, Goth. midjis, O.E. midd "middle," O.C.S. medzu "between," Arm. mej "middle"). Meaning "occupying a middle position" is attested from 1721.
The mast at the middle of the ship, I suppose.
It is not a mast "in the middle". A mizzenmast is a mast aft of mainmast.
In italian it is called "albero di mezzana" (mizzen= mezzana) and is defined in the same way, with no allowances: a mast immediately aft of the mainmast (which is called "albero maestro").
This is probably the correct meaning, I guess. We use the Italian term "mezzana" for the small sail and "maestra" for the main(=biggest) sail all over Mediterranean. Would you call the middle or the aft mast in a three mast schooner a mezzana? Most of the times the mezzana used to be near the middle of the ship, and the etymology points the same way.
- mizzenmast (it. "albero di mezzana" or just "mezzana") when aft of the mainmast
- foremast (it. "albero di trinchetto" or just "trinchetto") if forward of the mainmast.
This is valid for both two and three-masted ships. The real mess in nomenclature starts if you have a ship with more than 3 masts...
In greek nautical language we always call epi-dromos ( which means the thing that goes after,(at the aft end), the direction of the way of the ship) the aft sail, even in a three or four mast ships. and mezzana the mast that carries this epidromos.
Here, the aft mast of the schooner (scuna) is in fact called "albero maestro" (mainmast - the rule of height is always valid), while "trinchetto" (foremast) is the smaller mast in front of it.
What happens with the two- and three- equal mast schooners ?
I think that it would not be very difficult to search for the first appearances of the term in latin litterature, and see if my explanation about its etymology stands or not. In greek litterature "epidromos" is an ancient term, but I can not find when the identification of "epidromos" with the ( probably Venetian or Genovan) term ""mezzana"" did take place.
If we are talking just about the etymology of the word "mizzen", then all the roads are wide open. What I know for sure is that Romans didn't have it. Their ships have mostly had one mast (called "malus") in the middle of the ship, and occasionaly there could be a second one near the bow, called "artemon".
Bear in mind that, etymologicaly, the italian word "mezzana" can also be traced back to the meaning of both "mediocre quality" and "intermediary" - in a sense of the one who acts as a middleman between two parties.
So maybe "albero di mezzana" could also refer to the scarse propulsive quality or scarse importance of the sails belonging to that mast, when compared to the mainmast and foremast.
Or it could be (since it is positioned aft) the mast which "negotiates", "settles" (we would now say "trims") the position of the center of effort of ship's sailplan, mediating between the foremast (which wants to go leeward) and the mainmast (which is undecided what to do, being in the middle)... A mediator mast.
I'm guessing here, ok?
Very good guesses! As it is certain that the mezzana was used to steer the boat, it makes sense. Keep trying !
xarax, daiquiri, i start beliving a mizzen to be the third mast
got the idea the expression was flexible since on a four master its the fourth mast
wondered why on a two master everyone names the second mast and sail the mizzen
thats why i got interested in the word's language and history finding its meaning
also as middle and thinking most aft and what more and in a way i'm glad
it is quit a bit confusing; was affraid it was a real dumb question
scratch that, having a second look reading the text mizznes seem to be all over three masts here
Four-master bark: large four-masted sailboat. Boat that travels with the help of a sail.
Upper main topgallant sail: main topsail of the third or fourth mast.
Mizzen topgallant sail: auxiliary sail of the second mast placed on the stays of the mizzen royal sail.
Main royal sail: sail of the second mast, above the main topgallant sail.
Main topgallant sail: sail of the second mast, above the main topsail.
Main royal staysail: auxiliary sail of the second mast placed on the stays of the main royal sail.
Fore royal: sail of the first mast above the fore topgallant sail.
Fore topgallant sail: sail of the first mast, above the upper fore topsail.
Lower main topgallant sail: sail of the second mast, above the main topsail.
Upper fore topsail: sail of the first mast, above the lower fore topsail.
Lower fore topsail: sail of the first mast, above the foresail.
Flying jib: first triangular sail at the front of the boat.
Outer jib: second triangular sail at the front of the boat.
Inner jib: third triangular sail at the front of the boat.
Middle jib: fourth triangular sail at the front of the boat.
Foresail: lowest sail of the first mast.
Lower main topsail: sail of the second mast above the main sail.
Main sail: lowest sail of the second mast.
Main topmast staysail: sail shaped like an irregular quadrilateral placed at the peak of the second mast.
Upper main topsail: sail of the third mast above the mizzen sail.
Mizzen sail: lowest sail of the third mast.
Mizzen staysail: sail shaped like an irregular quadrilateral placed at the peak of the second mast.
Spanker: lowest sail of the fourth mast.
Lower mizzen topsail: sail of the fourth mast above the spanker.
Mizzen topgallant sail: sail of fourth mast above the lower mizzen topsail.
Mizzen royal: sail of the fourth mast above the mizzen topgallant sail.
Lower main topgallant sail: sail of the fourth mast above the mizzen topsail.
Main royal sail: sail of the fourth mast above the mizzen topgallant sail.
whats a mizzen, please enlighten me
The masts of a full rigged ship, from bow to stern, are:
* Foremast, which is the second tallest mast
* Mainmast, the tallest
* Mizzenmast, the third tallest
* Jiggermast, which may not be present but will be fourth tallest if so
There is no standard name for a fifth mast on a ship-rigged vessel (though this may be called the spanker mast on a barque, schooner or barquentine). Only one five-masted full rigged ship (the Flying P-Liner Preussen) had ever been built until recent years, when a few modern five-masted cruise sailing ships have been launched. Even a fourth mast is relatively rare for full rigged ships. Ships with five and more masts are not normally fully rigged and their masts may be numbered rather than named in extreme cases.
Naming her five masts: fore, main, middle, mizzen, and jigger
(In German: Vor-, Gro▀-, Mittel-, Achter-, Kreuzmast)
Her five masts were named as follows:
* fore mast, main mast, middle mast, mizzen mast (also: after mast or "Laeisz" mast), spanker mast
* fore mast, main mast, mizzen mast, jigger mast, spanker mast (same naming with five-masted schooners and barquentines)
(In German: Fockmast, Gro▀mast, Mittelmast, Kreuzmast und Besanmast)
On Thomas W. Lawson seven masted schooner,
So it seems that, in general, the mizen is the mast just after the main, except when we have five masts...because then it sounds more natural for the third mast to be called the middle mast, and to push the mizen mast in the fourth place...
I must say i have enjoyed this read. My colleague and I always try and catch each other out by using "old terms" and see if the other will bite by asking...er....what does XXX mean?...upon which either of us takes great pleasure in defining the "old" lost term. A silly game we play as we are interested in where the origins of words/phrases/metaphors come from - does provide a better understanding. In English almost all the metaphors come from its rich maritime history, hence our interest..
I have a very old and very thick Encyclopaedia Britannica, it is very smelly/musky. I have looked up mizzen, it says thus:
mizzen, n. Naut. 1. A mizzenmast. 2. A triangular sail set on the mizzen -adj. Of or pertaining to the mizzen or mizzenmast. Also miz'en [<F misaine <Ital. mezzana, fem. of mezzano middle <L medianus. Doublet of MEDIAN, MEAN, MESNE].
mizzen-mast, n. Naut. 1. The mast next abaft the mainmast. 2. The shorter of the two masts of a ketch or yawl.
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