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1 From the Latin puppis, stern, the name given to the short, aftermost deck raised above the quarterdeck of a ship. In square-rigged ships it formed the roof of the coach, or round house, where the master normally had his cabin. Only the larger sailing ships had poops, but the name has survived and is often used to describe any raised deck right aft in the ship. It is also sometimes wrongly used to describe that part of the deck which lies at the after end of a ship, regardless of whether raised or not. See also poop royal.

2 As a verb, a ship is pooped when a heavy sea breaks over its stern or quarter when being driven before a high wind. It is a situation of considerable danger, particularly in a heavily laden ship, as it usually comes about when the speed of the ship is approximately the same as the speed of the following sea, so that the rudder has little or no grip. In such cases, a sea which poops a ship is very apt to swing it off course until it is broadside on to the sea, with the danger of being rolled over. It is even more dangerous in smaller craft, such as a yacht, as a pooping sea will bring a great weight of water aboard which might swamp it. The danger of being pooped can sometimes be reduced by slowing down the vessel's speed in relation to the speed of the sea by towing a drogue or long warp.

A vessel pooped

Subjects: Maritime History.

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