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the sun is over the yardarm

It is the appropriate time of day to begin drinking alcohol. A "yardarm" is a horizontal bar on the mast of a ship, and it is supposed that when the sun passed it at a certain time of day (around noon), sailors were allowed to drink. Well, the sun is over the yardarm, so why don't we order some wine with our brunch? Are you really having a beer? I don't think the sun is quite over the yardarm yet.
See also: over, sun, yardarm

yardarm to yardarm

outdated Really close together. When I planted the bushes, I put them yardarm to yardarm—I hope they don't overcrowd each other once they start blooming.
See also: yardarm

the sun is over the yardarm

People say the sun is over the yardarm to say that it is late enough in the day to have an alcoholic drink. Well, the sun is over the yardarm — anyone for a drink? Note: This expression is used humorously. Note: This expression is thought to come from the old practice on some ships of having an alcoholic drink when the sun had risen past a horizontal bar on the mast, usually around 11a.m.
See also: over, sun, yardarm

the sun is over the yardarm

it is the time of day when it is permissible to drink alcohol. informal
This was originally a nautical expression: a yardarm is the outer extremity of a yard , a cylindrical spar slung across a ship's mast for a sail to hang from. The time of day referred to is noon, rather than 6 o'clock in the evening, as is often supposed.
1992 Angela Lambert A Rather English Marriage Have a snifter? Sun's over the yardarm, as they say in the senior service.
See also: over, sun, yardarm

sun is over the yardarm, when the

A time permissible for cocktails or some other alcoholic drink. Yardarm means either end of the outer portions of a square sail, and presumably this term alludes to the cocktail hour on a pleasure yacht, after the sun has begun to sink. It is used more in Britain than in America, where in fact it is dying out. Rudyard Kipling had it in From Sea to Sea (1899): “The American does not drink at meals as a sensible man should. Also, he has no decent notions about the sun being over the yardarm or below the horizon.”
See also: over, sun
References in periodicals archive ?
"Normally, with the yardarms and her masts rigged, your eyes were brought up," Amirault says.
Delano and five of his crew were hanged from the ship's yardarms. Their bodies were then brought ashore, chained and left hanging on gibbets.
Sea Cadets on the yardarms of the Training Ship Royalist in Portsmouth several hours before a cadet fell overboard from the ship and died.
AS I stood in the crow's nest, I watched some brave souls climb even higher, then out onto the yardarms to get the sails ready - just one rope to stand on, another to stop you falling backwards and a third to clip the safety harness on.
"Once, a Polish warship was left behind a convoy to sink a U-boat and, later having caught up, steamed through the fleet with dead German submariners hanging from the yardarms.
Some of the youngsters manning the yardarms Picture: TRACEY O'NEILL
They have rebuilt the internal accommodation and stripped tons of yardarms and rigging for refurbishment ashore.
Cowes, of course, is a major yachting centre and has quite a cosmopolitan feel about it but you don't have to know your sheets from your yardarms to enjoy the place.