\ ˈȯr How to pronounce oar (audio) \

Definition of oar

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a long pole with a broad blade at one end used for propelling or steering a boat
2 : oarsman


oared; oaring; oars

Definition of oar (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to progress by or as if by using oars

transitive verb

: to propel with or as if with oars : row

Other Words from oar


oared \ ˈȯrd How to pronounce oar (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for oar

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of oar in a Sentence

Noun “All oars ho!” the boatswain ordered Verb since the wind had completely died, they had to oar the sailboat back to shore
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On long-distance ocean rows, the repetitive oar-stroking motion often causes muscle atrophy in its participants. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Sep. 2021 Scullers stroke with two oars, which are generally shorter than a sweep oar and have a rubber handle. Olivia Reiner, USA TODAY, 23 July 2021 Martin is seeing the same phenomenon play out in the Great Pacific Race: sign-ups from people who have never handled an oar before, let alone crossed a smaller ocean. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 July 2021 On a wet and chilly Saturday in September 1993, Matthew Collins gripped his oar, waiting with his teammates to race in the lightweight men’s final at the World Rowing Championships in Czechoslovakia. BostonGlobe.com, 8 July 2021 After killing Dickie Greenleaf in a motorboat off the coast of Sanremo, Italy with an oar inthe first of the five Ripley novels, Ripley becomes Greenleaf. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 1 Feb. 2021 In the boat, the oar blades smear and scrape the river like knives over cream cheese. New York Times, 2 Jan. 2021 In a world increasingly divided into Greenleafs and Ripleys, surely there are more than a few of us who have wished to wield a figurative oar at those who fail upward, buoyed by Daddy’s money, tax loopholes and prep-school connections. Megan O’grady, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2020 The mastermind behind Donald Trump's Ukraine imbroglio is now sticking his oar in this autumn's presidential debates. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu And Vedika Sud, CNN, 23 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mute swans do put on bursts of speed by oaring with their huge webbed feet. National Geographic, 19 Oct. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oar.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of oar


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for oar


Middle English oore, ore, going back to Old English ār, going back to dialectal Germanic *airō (whence Old Norse ár "oar"), of uncertain origin

Note: The presumed etymon *airō is attested only in Scandinavian Germanic and Old English; it is apparently a loanword from Scandinavian into Finnic languages (North Saami áiru "oar," Finnish airo, Estonian aer). The Germanic word has been compared with Greek oíāx "handle of a rudder, tiller" oiḗïon "tiller, rudder," Homeric oíēkes "appurtenance on a yoke," Sanskrit īṣā́ "shaft, thill," Hittite hišša-, Czech oj, Slovene ojệ, ojệsa, all going back to Indo-European *h2(o)iH-s- "pole, shaft" (with the meaning "rudder" apparently secondary in Greek). However, if *airō goes back to *aizō the expected Old Norse outcome would be *eir rather than ār; additionally, the sense shift from "shaft of a cart" to "oar" is not unobjectionable.


Middle English oren, derivative of ore oar entry 1

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The first known use of oar was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Oar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oar. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for oar



English Language Learners Definition of oar

: a long pole that is flat and wide at one end and that is used for rowing and steering a boat


\ ˈȯr How to pronounce oar (audio) \

Kids Definition of oar

: a long pole that is flat and wide at one end and that is used for rowing or steering a boat

More from Merriam-Webster on oar

Nglish: Translation of oar for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oar for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oar


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