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[uh-sturn] /əˈstɜrn/
in a position behind a specified vessel or aircraft:
The cutter was following close astern.
in a backward direction:
The steamer went astern at half speed.
Origin of astern
1620-30; a-1 + stern2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for astern
Historical Examples
  • astern towed a dingy; from the taffrail flew the American flag.

    Our Navy in the War Lawrence Perry
  • In paddling the dugout the Indians all faced ahead, instead of astern as in rowing.

    Field and Forest Oliver Optic
  • I will run straight for the galleon, and, as we come alongside, drop you all astern.

    Hildebrand Anonymous
  • Many of them strove to swim off to us, but we left them astern.

    Early Australian Voyages John Pinkerton
  • The ram Manassas just missed us astern, and we soon disposed of the other.

  • Casting off the painter of the third cutter, he worked her astern, so as to avoid Peaks.

    Up The Baltic Oliver Optic
  • The modern boat carries the great part of her armament amidships and astern on swivels, and her bow is like a dagger.

    Last Words Stephen Crane
  • “I have made up my mind to haul her off astern,” answered Kydd.

    In the Wilds of Africa W.H.G. Kingston
  • And he hurled his lance, with quick and deadly aim, giving an order at the same time to "astern hard."

    The Von Toodleburgs F. Colburn Adams
  • It came at length, towards the end of the middle watch, and as before, astern.

    The Missing Ship W. H. G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for astern


adverb, adjective (postpositive) (nautical)
at or towards the stern
with the stern first: full speed astern!
aft of the stern of a vessel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for astern

1620s, from a- (1) "on" + stern (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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