1 cut off or left behind; "an isolated pawn"; "several stranded fish in a tide pool"; "travelers marooned by the blizzard" [syn: isolated, stranded]
2 put ashore and abandoned on a desolate island or coast; "the marooned pirate in `Treasure Island'"
- past of maroon
Marooning is leaving someone behind on purpose in an uninhabited area, such as an uninhabited island. The word appears in writing approximately 1709, and is derived from maroon, a fugitive slave. It could be a corruption of Spanish cimarrón, meaning "wild". The practice was a penalty for crewmen, or for captains at the hands of a crew. A marooned man was set on a deserted island, often no more than a sand bar. He would be given some food, a container of water, and a loaded pistol so he could commit suicide if he desired. The outcome of marooning was usually fatal, but William Greenaway and some men loyal to him survived being marooned, as did pirate captain Edward England.
The chief practitioners of marooning were 17th and 18th century pirates, to such a degree that they were frequently referred to as "marooners." The pirate articles of captains Bartholomew Roberts and John Phillips specify marooning as a punishment for cheating one's fellow pirates or other offenses. In this context, to be marooned is euphemistically to be "made governor of an island," a phrase later popularized by the Disney movie trilogy Pirates of the Caribbean.
During the late 18th century in the American South, "marooning" took on a humorous additional meaning describing an extended camping-out picnic over a period of several days (Oxford English Dictionary).
The most famous literary reference to marooning probably occurs in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
Castaway - Another famous marooning, although not for punishment, was leaving the sailor Alexander Selkirk on an island off the coast of Chile, in the Pacific Ocean. Selkirk, a sailor with the Dampier expedition was worried about the unseaworthy condition of his ship, and asked the captain to put him ashore on the first island en route. He was not rescued until four years later, by Woodes Rogers. It is probable that Selkirk's travails provided the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe. Today, one of the islands on the Chilean coast is named Selkirk Island, and the other named "Robinson Crusoe's" island.
ReferencesDouglas Botting, The Pirates, TimeLife Books, 1978.
The Tryals of Major Stede Bonnet, and Other Pirates. London, Printed for Benj. Cowse at the Rose and Crown in St Paul's Church-Yard, 1719.
marooned in German: Aussetzung (Strafrecht)