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Davy Jones’s locker

The idiom Davy Jones’s locker refers to the bottom of the sea, particularly in reference to death at sea. For example, if I say, “My brother went to Davy Jones’s locker,” you could conclude that my brother died at sea.

The origins of Davy Jones’s locker are mysterious, but there are many theories that we won’t repeat here. The earliest instances of the term are from the 18th century, and it was widely used in literature of the 19th century. Davy Jones is treated as a sort of sinister god of the sea, and we can imagine that his locker is a chest in which he keeps the sailors he claims.

The Jones is possessive here, so the phrase can be written either Davy Jones’s locker or Davy Jones’ locker, depending on how you make names ending in possessive (most add ‘s).


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Examples

And the boy—the man, I should say—must ‘ve been put away safe in Davy Jones’s locker for many a year—drowned—food for fishes—dead= the. [One Day More, Joseph Conrad]

‘Bloody Mike,’ their leader, had about persuaded the men to send the captain and mate to Davy Jones’s locker and the carpenter was riggin’ the plank for ’em to walk when I up and puts in a word. [The Perils of Pauline, Charles Goddard]

We asked where the rest of the ship’s company were; a gruff old fellow made answer, “One boat’s crew of ’em is gone to Davy Jones’s locker:—went off after a whale, last cruise, and never come back agin.” [Omoo: Adventures in the South Seas, Herman Melville]

Before NOAA is sent down to Davy Jones’s locker, there ought to be a debate about the very real policy consequences that could result from reorganization. [National Resources Defense Council]

A dinosaur-era Davy Jones’s locker of large, predatory sea reptiles—including a giant that scientists have nicknamed “the Monster—has been discovered. [National Geographic]

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