“FIRST RATE” ~where did the term originate?

1st Rate

In the 16th century, while England was busily expanding her empire through sea power and audacity, the Royal Navy classified its warships into six categories, known as “rates”, numbered one through six, depending upon the number of cannon the ship carried. A “sixth rate” warship carried up to 32 cannon while a “first rate” ship carried 100 or more guns.
The label was quickly applied to anything perceived as top quality, the best of its kind, and has remained a part of the English language long after England stopped using the rating system for counting guns on warships.



  1. CL Mann says:

    Very interesting… a first rate article!

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