This saying, like so many others, derives its name from the world's long sea-faring tradition.

This phrase finds its origins in French author Victor Hugo's historical novel Ninety Three, in which he describes a dangerous moment where a deckhand has to subdue a loose cannon in the midst of a storm. Since the book's publication in 1874, the phrase has come to refer to a person whose behavior can be reckless or out of control. "I won't work with him.