Comments: *Ask Jen: Walk the Plank Edition

I've heard another possible etymological source as well. A common nickname for the Devil in the 18th century was "Old Roger". It's possible that Jolly Roger was a play on this as both dealt with fear and death.

Posted by Jim at November 16, 2004 03:01 PM

You're entirely correct.

Posted by Jennifer at November 16, 2004 03:03 PM

Patrick O'Brian in - I think - "The Wine Dark Sea" suggests that a plain black flag was a recognized signal for "no quarter asked or given" - a standard pirate practice. It might be possible that a skull and/or crossbones were added to such a signal to put a little extra scariness into it.

Posted by Robert the Llama Butcher at November 18, 2004 03:40 PM