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[awr, ohr] /ɔr, oʊr/
a long shaft with a broad blade at one end, used as a lever for rowing or otherwise propelling or steering a boat.
something resembling this or having a similar purpose.
a person who rows; oarsman.
verb (used with object)
to propel with or as if with oars; row.
to traverse or make (one's way) by, or as if by, rowing.
verb (used without object)
to row.
to move or advance as if by rowing.
put in one's oar, to meddle; interfere:
He put in his oar and was told to mind his own business.
rest on one's oars, to cease to make an effort; relax after exertion; stop working after success or completing a task:
Once he became president, he was content to rest on his oars.
Origin of oar
before 900; Middle English ore, Old English ār; cognate with Old Norse ār
Related forms
oarless, adjective
oarlike, adjective
Can be confused
oar, o'er, or, ore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oar
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was even aroused with difficulty, and he resumed the oar with reluctance.

    The Wing-and-Wing J. Fenimore Cooper
  • The Spaniard seized an oar and with an oath sprang toward the American.

    A Prisoner of Morro Upton Sinclair
  • My bruised and swollen hands could no longer close on the oar handles.

    The Sea-Wolf Jack London
  • And once he let Tattie and me try to row, but I 'caught a crab' and dropped the oar.

  • Their only oar was wrenched from the grasp of the fisherman, and the frail bark was thus left to the mercy of the waves.

  • He pulled on; but Jack saw his hands suddenly let go his oar, and down he sank.

    The Three Midshipmen W.H.G. Kingston
  • They climbed over the seat back and each took an oar, kneeling like canoeists.

    Smugglers' Reef John Blaine
  • Plant my oar upon my tomb—the oar with which I used to row while I was living.'

  • Happy are those who still dwell in Cambridge courts and follow the delightful labour of the oar!

    Rowing Rudolf Chambers Lehmann
British Dictionary definitions for oar


a long shaft of wood for propelling a boat by rowing, having a broad blade that is dipped into and pulled against the water. Oars were also used for steering certain kinds of ancient sailing boats
short for oarsman
put one's oar in, to interfere or interrupt
to row or propel with or as if with oars: the two men were oaring their way across the lake
Derived Forms
oarless, adjective
oarlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English ār, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse ār
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 oar

Old English ar "oar," from Proto-Germanic *airo (cf. Old Norse ar, Danish aare, Swedish åra), of unknown origin; perhaps related to Latin remus "oar," Greek eretes "rower," eretmos "oar."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for oar


Related Terms

row with one oar

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for oar


[National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of] Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with oar


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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