You hear and see the phrase ‘Hold Fast’ being tossed around a lot, but most people don’t know what it means. This blog does a great job detailing it’s history. It’s a fairly long read, and I would encourage you to read it. For the purpose of this entry, I’m going to show this excerpt about the origin of the beloved phrase.
The original intent was to prevent sailor’s hands from slipping on lines, or to secure yourself to the riggin’ when working aloft in weather. To many sailor-folk, the meaning of “hold fast” is obvious enough, but those whose ear’s aren’t trained to it, it might sound a contradiction. On board, a line (a rope to you lubbers) is “fast” when it is firmly and positively secured. In traditional sailing vernacular, many line- and sail-handling commands have been extended to include persons as well. To “belay” a line is to secure it with a series of turns (wraps) around a cleat, pin, bit, or kevel, stopping it from further motion. Likewise, to call out “Belay that!” might just as well apply to a person doing some undesirable activity, or to stop a previous order from being carried out.
Tattoo by James Clements in Shreveport, LA