Aye aye, sir

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The phrase "aye aye, sir" is commonly heard present day in naval language. It is derived from a duplicate of the word "aye" which came into the English language in the late 1500s and early 1600s, meaning "Yes; even so.".[1] It was common in dialect and is the formal word for voting "yes" in the English House of Commons.

A naval response indicating that an order has been received, is understood, and will be carried out immediately. It differs from yes, which, in standard usage, could mean simple agreement without any intention to act. In naval custom, a reply of "yes sir" would indicate agreement to a statement that was not understood as an order or a requirement to do anything. The alternatives of "aye aye sir" and "yes sir" would allow any misunderstanding to be corrected at once. This might be a matter of life and death for a ship at sea.


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary. "Aye Aye". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 18 November 2014.