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[ruhd-er] /ˈrʌd ər/
Nautical. a vertical blade at the stern of a vessel that can be turned horizontally to change the vessel's direction when in motion.
Aeronautics. a movable control surface attached to a vertical stabilizer, located at the rear of an airplane and used, along with the ailerons, to turn the airplane.
any means of or device for governing, directing, or guiding a course, as a leader or principle:
His ideas provided a rudder for the new company.
Origin of rudder
before 900; Middle English rodder, rother, ruder, Old English rōther; cognate with Old Frisian rōther, Middle Dutch rōder (Dutch roer), Old High German ruodar (German Ruder); akin to row2
Related forms
ruddered, adjective
rudderless, adjective
rudderlike, adjective
unruddered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rudderless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In the days which followed I appeared to myself like a rudderless ship in a choppy sea.

    My Actor-Husband Anonymous
  • He felt as he had at his father's death, rudderless, derelict.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • The Ark was rudderless, oarless, and machineless, and could travel only where the High Gods chose.

    The Lost Continent C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne
  • Without it she was like a rudderless boat on an endless sea, and he knew it.

    Jennie Gerhardt Theodore Dreiser
  • Dick shouted, veering in the wind of his own words like a rudderless ship in a storm.

    Mount Music E. Oe. Somerville and Martin Ross
  • He can never get a ship: his career's cut short, he's a rudderless boat.

  • “I do not comprehend it,” resumed Captain Amphlett, looking more helpless than a rudderless ship at sea.

    Johnny Ludlow, Sixth Series Mrs. Henry Wood
  • A man who is all theory is like "a rudderless ship on a shoreless sea."

  • Already drifting like a rudderless ship, he might any moment founder on the rocks.

British Dictionary definitions for rudderless


(nautical) a pivoted vertical vane that projects into the water at the stern of a vessel and can be controlled by a tiller, wheel, or other apparatus to steer the vessel
a vertical control surface attached to the rear of the fin used to steer an aircraft, in conjunction with the ailerons
anything that guides or directs
Derived Forms
rudderless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English rōther; related to Old French rōther, Old High German ruodar, Old Norse rōthr. See row²
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 rudderless



Old English roðor "paddle, oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothru- (cf. Old Frisian roðer, Middle Low German roder, Middle Dutch roeder, Dutch roer, Old High German ruodar, German Ruder "oar"), from *ro- "steer" (see row (v.)) + suffix -þra, used to form neutral names of tools. Meaning "broad, flat piece of wood attached to the stern of a boat and used for steering" is from c.1300. Spelling with -d- for -th- first recorded mid-15c. (cf. feather, mother, gather).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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