a stick, wand, staff, or the like, of wood, metal, or other material.
a straight, slender shoot or stem of any woody plant, whether still growing or cut from the plant.
(in plastering or mortaring) a straightedge moved along screeds to even the plaster between them.
a stick used for measuring.
Archaic. a unit of linear measure, 5.5 yards or 16.5 feet (5.029 meters); linear perch or pole.
Archaic. a unit of square measure, 30.25 square yards (25.29 sq. m); square perch or pole.
a stick, or a bundle of sticks or switches bound together, used as an instrument of punishment.
punishment or discipline: Not one to spare the rod, I sent him to bed without dinner.
a wand, staff, or scepter carried as a symbol of office, authority, power, etc.
authority, sway, or rule, especially when tyrannical.
a slender bar or tube for draping towels over, suspending a shower curtain, etc.
Bible. a branch of a family; tribe.
a pattern, drawn on wood in full size, of one section of a piece of furniture.
a pistol or revolver.
Vulgar. the penis.
Anatomy. one of the rodlike cells in the retina of the eye, sensitive to low intensities of light. Compare cone ( def 5 ).
Bacteriology. a rod-shaped microorganism.
Also called leveling rod, stadia rod. Surveying. a light pole, conspicuously marked with graduations, held upright and read through a surveying instrument in leveling or stadia surveying.
Metallurgy. round metal stock for drawing and cutting into slender bars.
verb (used with object), rodded, rodding.
to furnish or equip with a rod or rods, especially lightning rods.
to even (plaster or mortar) with a rod.
Metallurgy. to reinforce (the core of a mold) with metal rods.

before 1150; Middle English rodd, late Old English; akin to Old Norse rudda club

rodless, adjective
rodlike, adjective Unabridged


a male given name, form of Roderick or Rodney. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rod (rɒd)
1.  a slim cylinder of metal, wood, etc; stick or shaft
2.  a switch or bundle of switches used to administer corporal punishment
3.  any of various staffs of insignia or office
4.  power, esp of a tyrannical kind: a dictator's iron rod
5.  a straight slender shoot, stem, or cane of a woody plant
6.  See fishing rod
7.  pole, Also called: perch
 a.  a unit of length equal to 5½ yards
 b.  a unit of square measure equal to 301⁄4 square yards
8.  a straight narrow board marked with the dimensions of a piece of joinery, as the spacing of steps on a staircase
9.  Compare shaft a metal shaft that transmits power in axial reciprocating motion: piston rod, con(necting) rod
10.  surveying another name (esp US) for staff
11.  Compare cone Also called: retinal rod any of the elongated cylindrical cells in the retina of the eye, containing the visual purple (rhodopsin), which are sensitive to dim light but not to colour
12.  any rod-shaped bacterium
13.  a slang word for penis
14.  (US) slang name for pistol
15.  short for hot rod
[Old English rodd; related to Old Norse rudda club, Norwegian rudda, rydda twig]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. rodd "a rod, pole," related to O.N. rudda "club," of unknown origin. Figurative sense of "offshoot" (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning "scion, tribe." As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for "correction, punishment" from notion of beating someone with a
stick. As a unit of measure (5.5 yards or 16.5 feet, also called perch or pole) first attested mid-15c. As a measure of area, "a square perch," from late 15c. Meaning "light-sensitive cell in a retina" is from 1866, so-called for its shape. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1902; that of "gun, revolver" is from 1903.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

rod (rŏd)

  1. A straight slender cylindrical formation.

  2. A rod cell.

  3. An elongated bacterium; a bacillus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
rod   (rŏd)  Pronunciation Key 
One of the rod-shaped cells in the retina of the eye of many vertebrate animals. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones and are responsible for the ability to see in dim light. However, rods are insensitive to red wavelengths of light and do not contribute greatly to the perception of color. Compare cone.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see hot rod; spare the rod.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The rod was to work when a beam of light was bounced off its end.
As a result, he has become a lightning rod for all criticism of the government.
The fishing spider needs neither rod nor reel to lure in tadpoles, fish, or
Each color rod represents a different length, and they are used to help
  elementary students master simple addition and fractions.
Idioms & Phrases
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