Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dated, nautical, idiomatic In British naval tradition, this originally referred to a day of the week when galley kitchens served no meat on board ship.
  • noun idiomatic In modern usage it refers to a picnic or cookout for the ship's crew.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

According to the OED, the term is borrowed from the Banyans in the East Indies, a caste that eat nothing that had life.

Examples

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Comments

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  • "A sea term for those days on which no meat is allowed to the sailors: the term is borrowed from the Banyans in the East Indies, a caste that eat nothing that had life." See also banyan.

    September 5, 2008

  • "I was not very much tempted with the appearance of this dish, of which, nevertheless, my messmates ate heartily, advising me to follow their example, as it was banyan day and we could have no meat till next noon. But I had already laid in sufficient for the occasion, and therefore desired to be excused: expressing a curiosity to know the meaning of banyan day. They told me, that, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the ship's company had no allowance of meat, and that these meagre days were called banyan days, the reason of which they did not know; but I have since learned they take their denomination from a sect of devotees in some parts of the East Indies, who never taste flesh."

    - Smollett, Roderick Random, 1748

    May 22, 2014