One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in the navy) a person with whom one shares communal accommodation.
- ‘Ellen thinks that the stranger has made a flimsy connection between the name ‘messmate’ and mates on a troopship.’
- ‘Fighting for a cause has less influence on behavior than fighting for messmates.’
- ‘Unwillingly forced to read his letter aloud to his table at sea, Carl came across this bit and a lump rose in his throat as playful jeers rose from his messmates.’
- ‘Joe Matkin, with his moderate tastes, watched in amusement as his messmates came staggering and slipping up the gangplank and tried to form coherent replies to the enraged officer of the watch.’
- ‘When one congressman failed to vote with his messmates another congressman complained,‘We let him… sit at the same table with us, but we do not speak to him… He has betrayed those with whom he broke bread.’’
- ‘He'd assume, quite rightly, that some sailorman like himself had landed there in the past, and maybe if he was of sentimental romantic inclination he'd put it in his pocket for his girlfriend or to show his messmates.’
- ‘‘Of course he'll live, ’said his messmates. ‘Ain't the doctor pumped him dry, and blown out his gaff with physic?’’
- ‘For most fishermen, the goal was to take from 15 to 30 trout a day, enough to furnish a good meal for themselves and their messmates.’
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