Talk:HMS Warspite

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Origin of the Name[edit]

What is a warspite? Where does the name come from? Lordjim13 11:51, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

I’d thought the name was just an amalgam of “war” and “spite”; I know “spite” occurs in “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as a mild expletive, so maybe the name had more meaning in Elizabethan times than it does today. Xyl 54 (talk) 11:31, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

The article mentions that "spite" is another name for the green woodpecker. If so, then that form of the word may have a different and distinct origin than "spite" in its meaning of "malicious or petty desire to do harm". "Spite" in that meaning is a form of "despite", which comes to English from Latin via Old French. But "spite" as a name for a woodpecker is likely solely of Germanic origin; I suspect it is a cognate with the German, "Specht". a woodpecker.

Best regards, TheBaron0530 (talk) 00:47, 1 October 2016 (UTC)theBaron0530

I've been looking into this myself and have found a more complete version of the explanation for the origin of the name from this website about HMS Warspite (1913)'s ship's badge:
To wit:
"First World War period tampion badge from HMS Warspite; one of a pair in the collection (see also MAR 639). Unusually HMS Warspite (1913) had two designs of ship's badge - a cannon and a woodpecker. The cannon design was the one adopted when a sealed pattern was first agreed in 1919 and so became the ship's 'official' badge, but the woodpecker continued in use on the gun tampions and on the bows of the ship's small boats. The ship's dance band was called 'The Woodpeckers'. The reason for having two badges links to an early pun - the Elizabethan word 'spight' not only meant 'defiance' (or 'contempt'), but was also a colloquial term for a green woodpecker."
As we can see the clear relation to the original Warspight's name -- a "War Woodpecker", punching holes in wooden enemy ships in 1596 -- can we have this page updated to reflect this please?
Scottish Andy (talk) 18:47, 31 March 2017 (UTC)

Sixth, not seventh? And more spiting...[edit]

Unless there is an earlier Warspite missing from the list, it is Warspite (03), the sixth, that has the most battle honours, not the seventh as stated in the sentence beginning the Battle Honours section.

On the subject of woodpeckers, spight is certainly an old word for a woodpecker, but I don't know why wiki is specifying that it refers to a Green woodpecker. Neither wiki's own page on Green Woodpeckers gives that as an alternative name (it could have been, but fallen out of use long ago), nor does Wiktionary specify a green woodpecker (

From the pedia GW page, "'Yaffle' was among many English folk names for the European green woodpecker relating to its laughing call; others include laughing Betsey, yaffingale, yappingale and Jack Eikle. Other names, including rain-bird, weather cock and wet bird, suggest its supposed ability to bring on rain.[17] Other names include nickle, and nicker pecker."

Definitely a woodpecker reference, but a Green one? Nitpicking, I know, but isn't what Talk pages exist for? ;-)

Regards, (talk) 14:00, 5 May 2017 (UTC) Rædwulf (non-member)

Sixth not seventh - a relic of an earlier version of this page which included another ship (not HMS) called Warspite.
I don't know anything about woodpeckers, but one version of the ship's badge displayed a green woodpecker and most of the sources we've used (esp. Ballantyne and IWM) specify this. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:46, 7 May 2017 (UTC)