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"Shiver my timbers" was a genuine historical nautical phrase. The 1811 The Monthly Review refers to: the nautical phrase, “shiver my timbers,” Here, "shiver" means to break into splinters. It only makes sense to say with respect to a wooden boat. In the 1794 play Rule Britannia: a loyal sketch, in two acts, at page 31, Thomas tells Captain Anchor: ...

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