I have come across this phrase recently. What does it mean?

"she don't keep up her lick here...".

From The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain.

"Why, this watch. I bought her out in Illinois--gave $150 for her--and I thought she was good. And, by George, she is good onshore, but somehow she don't keep up her lick here on the water--gets seasick may be. She skips; she runs along regular enough till half-past eleven, and then, all of a sudden, she lets down.

By the way, "her" stands here for "the watch". This is another question. How come a watch is her?


1 Answer 1


Lick can mean, among many other things, "a quick pace; speed" (sense 7, here).

Thus to keep up one's lick means to keep up one's speed.

Twain is saying that the watch does not keep correct time when out at sea.

As for the use of "her" when referring to the watch, feminine pronouns are often used when referring to inanimate objects, especially artifacts perceived as having sentimental value. For example, some people give their cars female names and say things like "She's a real beauty", referring to the car.


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