I know that nautical has the same meaning that word "navy" has

But does also nautical have the meaning of "navigational"? I've transalted nautical in different translators to my language and along with adjective meaning of navy, they also provide "navigational" as one of the results of translation.

But it seems kind of different from the "navy" meaning. So I'm wondering does nautical really have this meaning or translators throw false translation

  • 1
    A false translation that might be related to how often a given tool is both. Something you use to find your way at sea is a nautical navigational tool. A seafarer's chronometer, for instance, is both nautical and navigational. A road map is a tool of navigation, too, but roads on dry land are anything but nautical. Jun 29, 2021 at 18:19
  • 2
    Nautical doesn't mean exactly the same thing as navy or naval. Nautical can mean anything having to do with sailors and sailing. Naval often (but not always) means "having to do with the navy", which is a military force. You might want to read boatdesign.net/threads/naval-vs-nautical.6867
    – stangdon
    Jun 29, 2021 at 18:50
  • Navigation is derived from the Latin word for a ship, and originally referred to calculating the position of a ship at sea and finding the way to its intended destination. As @GaryBotnovcan says, by extension it can also mean finding your way on land. Jun 29, 2021 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


"Nautical" means anything having to do with ships or the people who operate them (still often called sailors although ships are not generally powered by sails any more). It can also, less precisely, be used for anything to do with the sea.

"Navigation" originally refereed to finding the position of a ship on the sea. It now also refers to finding one's way about on land, or in the menus of a web application, or in general finding ones position or a way to get from one place or another.

"Navy" and "naval" refer to a military force on the sea. Ships that are not military still do navigation to find their positions. Civilian ships and their components and people are still nautical topics.

All three words "naval", "navy" and "navigation" derive from the Latin word for a ship. If a computer translation program equates "nautical" with "navy" or "navigatio0n it helps to show the limits of the program.


Welll ... they CAN be the same. But that's not how "navigation" is usually used.

"Nautical" is an adjective meaning "related to ships or sailing".

"Navigation" is a noun that most often is used to mean "the science or practice of plotting and following a course for travel". It CAN also mean "traffic of ships".

So for example, one might say, "Bob is an expert at navigation. He can plot a course from any place in the world to any place else." "Navigation" was, I think, originally used to refer to plotting course by ship, but is also used to talk about the course of an airplane or a car.

As to the second meaning, the US Navy regularly talks about "engaging in freedom of navigation exercises", which basically means sailing through contested sections of the ocean to make a point that they're allowed to be there. That is, they're basically using "navigation" to simply mean "travel by ship". Maybe this usage is common among sailors, but I don't hear it much in common speech.

People sometimes use "navigation" metaphorically to mean finding one's away around anything. Like, "Let me explain how to navigate this software's menus."

"Navy" is not the same as "nautical". "Navy" is a noun meaning a branch of a nation's military devoted to fighting at sea. "Navy" is a noun while "nautical" is an adjective, and "nautical" can refer to both military and civilian use of boats and ships, while "Navy" only refers to military. Well, like almost any word, it can be used in a non-literal way. Like you might say, "Wow, Bob just bought a fourth boat! The man has his own navy!"

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