Definition of before the mast in English:

before the mast

phrase

historical
  • Serving as an ordinary seaman in a sailing ship (quartered in the forecastle):

    ‘he had sailed before the mast in a windjammer’
    • ‘I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains.’
    • ‘A day to celebrate a great Victory so slipping back to my youthful days before the mast as a boy sailor I will be happy to join in the traditional Naval celebrations.’
    • ‘The drama unfolds on the very day he and the other Tyrones learn the physical price of the young man's slumming excursion before the mast, the ‘stunt’ of ‘working his way all over the maps as a sailor… living in filthy dives, drinking rotgut’.’
    • ‘Such is our time before the mast in Tahiti - until departure becomes as inevitable as work and taxes.’
    • ‘It is surprising how many men who come from the inland counties have sailed before the mast.’