"Go by the board"

I am going to have to work next week. I’m afraid our vacation plans will have to go by the board.”


Many people use this expression today. It means that something that has been planned or arranged does not happen – it “goes by the board.”

But this is originally a nautical expression that dates back to the 17th century, when it meant to “to fall or be washed overboard.”

The board is the side or the decking of a ship. Most of the early references to this expression relate to the masts of sailing ships that had fallen “by the board.”

It isn’t exactly clear whether the expression originally meant “gone over the side” or “fallen onto the deck.”

The figurative use of the phrase began in the mid 19th century.