- Letter Writer
- Early warships
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2009 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
5. I have also seen writers claim that seawater sloshes into the monkey and when it freezes the water expands and pushes the balls off. This is just as much rubbish. Water expands by about 9% when it freezes, so water freezing in a 10 mm deep depression in the monkey would lift the balls by about 1 mm. How will this make them fall off? They’d be frozen to the ice for a start. It is all nonsense.
In summary, the expression ‘cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey’ is a crude variant of an old expression and has nothing to do with cannonballs and mythical brass monkeys.
Dr Richard Walding
School of Biomolecular and Physical Sciences
Griffith University, Brisbane.
Member, Naval Historical Society