O.E. styrne "severe, strict," from P.Gmc. *sternijaz (cf. M.H.G. sterre, Ger. starr "stiff," störrig "obstinate;" Goth. andstaurran "to be stiff;" O.N. stara; O.E. starian "to look or gaze upon"), from PIE base *ster-, *star- "be rigid" (see sterile).
c.1300, "hind part of a ship, steering gear of a ship," probably from O.N. stjorn "a steering," related to styra "to guide" (see steer (v.)). Or the word may come from O.Fris. stiarne "rudder," which is also related to steer (v.).