Someone entered a contest I am sponsoring and a line reads:

He left his cave aboard a mountain top

"Aboard" is the word in question here - Aboard is a required word as the contest has 10 given words that must be placed in a story or poem. The person makes great use of 9 out of 10 words. I do not believe 'aboard' is used correctly in this circumstance. I do not believe a cave can be aboard a mountain. Yes or No? The story written is really well minus this blip. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  • I suppose it could be imagined in a science fiction story where the mountain has separated from the ground and has become a flying object used for the transportation of people. – None Apr 26 '16 at 5:55
  • Can you provide more context? Also, does 'leave' ("left") mean 'exit' or 'leave behind'? It it means 'exit' then 'aboard' is probably not used in the way most people use it; however, a teacher should not too much to discourage students from extending word meanings. – Alan Carmack Apr 26 '16 at 14:02

You are right.

According to Cambridge dictionary aboard is used about a person or thing that is in or on a vehicle. Some people also use the term about being on horseback.

Merriam webster offers two additional meanings: alongside and membership of a team.

The alongside meaning is a nautical term meaning travelling on a parallel course, or in the expression close aboard, which means side by side.

None of these meanings are appropriate for caves and mountains.

  • Not necessarily, "Destiny climbed aboard and straddled her.". Also it could mean 'part of a thing or a team' - "Welcome aboard the marketing team". – Varun Nair Apr 26 '16 at 6:00
  • It's very clear now. +1 – Varun Nair Apr 26 '16 at 6:45
  • 1
    I think it would be really helpful to explain that the "alongside" definition is nautical - the sailboat passed our ship close aboard – ColleenV Apr 26 '16 at 15:58

As an adverb, "aboard" may also have the meanings "to the side" and "side by side", and as a preposition - "on", "in", "into"

Dictionary.com : aboard (adverb) 2. alongside; to the side.

Vocabulary.com : aboard (adv) 1. side by side

Free Dictionary : aboard (adv.) 2. alongside; to the side.

So I think that the person you mentioned had thought twice before he decided to put the word into the text. Although "on a mountain top" would've been by all means a better choice.

  • Please include the actual dictionary entries here rather than only including the links to the dictionary... the entries can change or the site can change their links, so the links may become unuseful. – Catija Apr 26 '16 at 15:35
  • Actually, every one of the three links leads to a page with the word "aboard", not to a home page, is that is what you mean. – Victor B. Apr 26 '16 at 15:41
  • No. We have a rule on SE that answers should include the main content of the answer in the content of the answer. It's explained here. Link-reliant answers are considered substandard and should be improved by including the content of the link in the actual answer. – Catija Apr 26 '16 at 15:46
  • I edited one of the links as an example. I don't think this is all that helpful, because it doesn't explain how any of those definitions make 'aboard' correct in the context. All you're saying is that the author tried. – ColleenV Apr 26 '16 at 15:49
  • Also, as ColleenV noted in her comment on another answer, the "side by side" definition of aboard is a nautical term. I have never heard it used in any circumstance other than boats floating in water next to each other. – Adam Apr 26 '16 at 16:11

Without further context, this is a difficult thing to answer. Taken on its own without the rest of the writing, it feels wrong. If the writer is trying to create a metaphor for the mountain being like a vehicle of some sort, then it might be perfectly appropriate.

I think context matters here a great deal, especially if it is poetry or fiction.

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