Did you hear someone say the phrase 'that ship has sailed,' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
'That ship has sailed' is an idiom that means that an opportunity that was once present has now passed. Its origin comes from the literal meaning of the phrase-- if you showed up at port after a ship had already gone out to sea, you'd have missed the opportunity to board the boat and join the journey.
'That ship has sailed' is a phrase that means that an opportunity has already passed.
You could use this expression, for example, if someone you know is talking about something that you know was once an opportunity but no longer is. This is a popular metaphor in everyday language that touches upon the fact that there are some things in life that you have to grab hold of when they are there. Once they're gone, they can't be reclaimed-- some opportunities are ultimately time-sensitive.
The idiom 'that ship has sailed' comes from the literal meaning of a ship leaving a port. People have been using ships as a major form of transportation and means of engaging in trade for thousands of years-- in fact, the earliest historical evidence of boats dates back to the 4th millennium BC in Egypt.
However, if you arrived after the ship had already left, it would mean that you could no longer get aboard and be a part of the journey.
Over time, the literal meaning of describing a ship that has already sailed away morphed into a figurative expression referring to an opportunity that was once present but now lost.
How would 'That Ship Has Sailed' be used in a sentence?
Let’s take a look at some examples:
What are some other words and phrases that have a similar meaning to 'That Ship Has Sailed'?
Here are some options:
"That ship has sailed' is a very common expression that is used to indicate that an opportunity is no longer attainable. Historically, the phrase was used literally to describe a ship that had already left port-- if you showed up too late, you wouldn't be able to join the voyage.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
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