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or jetsom

[jet-suh m] /ˈdʒɛt səm/
goods cast overboard deliberately, as to lighten a vessel or improve its stability in an emergency, which sink where jettisoned or are washed ashore.
Compare flotsam, lagan.
Origin of jetsam
1560-70; alteration of jetson, syncopated variant of jettison
Can be confused
flotsam, jetsam. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for jetsam
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If they continue at sea, the law distinguishes them by the barbarous and uncouth appellations of jetsam, flotsam, and ligan.

  • I am not a purposeless bit of jetsam flung out on the ocean of time to be tossed about helplessly.

  • Both were "typical of the human flotsam and jetsam washed up by every revolutionary movement."

    John Brown, Soldier of Fortune Hill Peebles Wilson
  • No, there had been no wreck, yet all about her lay the wave-sodden flotsam and jetsam of many past disasters.

    The Dragon's Secret Augusta Huiell Seaman
  • Among the jetsam of those restless Fundy tides almost anything that will float may appear, from a matchbox to a barn.

    The House in the Water Charles G. D. Roberts
  • As soon as it was broke, Gud dismounted and strolled along the beach looking for flotsam and jetsam.

    The Book of Gud Dan Spain
  • I copped it on the high seas—flotsam and jetsam,' says the 'roughneck.'

  • He gathered it in and swept his tiny flash around in search of other jetsam from his tool kit.

    Tight Squeeze Dean Charles Ing
  • But the jetsam is in the position of a passenger who has been carried off by the wrong train.

    Darwin and Modern Science A.C. Seward and Others
British Dictionary definitions for jetsam


that portion of the equipment or cargo of a vessel thrown overboard to lighten her, as during a storm Compare flotsam (sense 1), lagan
another word for flotsam (sense 2)
Word Origin
C16: shortened from jettison
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for jetsam

1560s, jottsome "act of throwing goods overboard to lighten a ship," alteration and contraction of Middle English jetteson, from Anglo-French getteson, Old French getaison "a throwing" (see jettison). Intermediate forms were jetson, jetsome; the form perhaps was deformed by influence of flotsam. From 1590s as "goods thrown overboard;" figurative use by 1861. For distinction of meaning, see flotsam.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with jetsam


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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