Asked by: Ixiar Waeles
travel cruises

Why are they called port holes?

Last Updated: 25th February, 2020

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For heavy weather and when the cannons were not in use, the openings were fitted with covers, that were called porte in French, meaning "door". "Porte" was Anglicized to "port" and later corrupted to porthole. Eventually, it came to mean any opening in a ship's side whether for cannon or not.

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Subsequently, one may also ask, why are port holes round?

First of all, circular openings on ships are called port holes and the glass covers are called port lights. So the port lights and holes must be able to be shut and sealed against tremendous forces. Round holes are easier to seal and to reinforce against forces than rectangular shaped holes which have weak points.

Also Know, where did port and starboard come from? While 'starboard' means to the right-hand side of the vessel, the left-hand side is now referred to as 'port' – though this wasn't always the case. In Old English, the term was 'bæcbord' (in modern German Backbord and French bâbord).

Then, why do they call it port side?

Before ships had rudders on their centrelines, they were steered with a steering oar at the stern of the ship on the right hand side of the ship, because more people are right-handed. Hence the left side was called port. The Oxford English Dictionary cites port in this usage since 1543.

Do ships always dock on the port side?

Ships do not dock on the port side they actually never have. The side they dock on is detemined by the berth they enter. Some of them require that they face port and some require they face starboard.

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