Dear Yahoo!:What is the origin of the phrase "Davy Jones' Locker"? Lost atSea
Dear Lost: We knew that sailors used the phrase to refer to the bottom of the ocean, but we had no clue as to its origin. After entering the phrase "Davy Jones' Locker" in the Yahoo! search bar, we discovered several possibilities:
Michael Quinion's excellent World Wide Words
site offers a great quote from Tobias Smollet's The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
(1751): "This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep...."
One legend suggests that a particularly fiendish pub owner named David Jones used to incapacitate hapless drinkers in his ale locker, and send them off aboard ships. Sounds like a handy way of disposing of your enemies. Brewer¿s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
offers an interesting linguistic take on the issue: Davy is a bastardization of Duffy, the West Indian term for ghost. Jones comes from Jonah, the prophet who spent a few uncomfortable days lodged in the GI tract of a whale. And a locker, loosely defined, is a place to store valuable things. So the phrase "He's gone to Davy Jones' locker" (i.e., he cashed it in) loosely translates as "He's safe with Duffy Jonah now."
A random Navy Trivia
page we stumbled across has some entertaining guesses: Duffer Jones was a notoriously myopic sailor who often found himself overboard. Davy
could also come from the horned one himself, the Devil. The shortest sailor on board usually impersonates him during the the Crossing of the Line, a bizarre naval cross-dressing ceremony. The less said, the better.