High Seas

All the sea which is not the property of a particular country. The sea three miles out belongs to the adjacent coast, and is called mare clausum. High-seas, like high-ways, means for the public use. In both cases the word high means “chief,” “principal.” (Latin, allum, “the main sea;” altus, “high.”)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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