\ 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


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

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Other Words from oar


oared \ ˈȯrd How to pronounce oared (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 Some waters were simply marked off limits, so people didn’t fish there or were blocked by fences. Boaters floating down rivers with barbed wire fences strewn across got used to using their oars to lift up the wires, skirting underneath. Christine Peterson, Outdoor Life, "Lawyers, Trout, and Money—The Crazy Story Behind the Water Access Battle in New Mexico," 13 Mar. 2020 For the 2019 team, four new rowers took the oars of the spaceship-like vessel named the Woobie: Carl Christensen, Luke Holton, John Fannin and Evan Stratton. al, "3,000-mile rowing race almost over for U.S. veterans who trained in Alabama," 26 Jan. 2020 The rowers should have spent Thursday on the water, cutting through the placid lagoon with white oars bearing the purple insignia of the College of the Holy Cross. Zoe Greenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "‘It’s all still surreal’: Fatal crash in Florida leaves Holy Cross rowers reeling," 16 Jan. 2020 Learning gondola secrets in Venice Saverio Pastor is one of five remèri, or oar craftsmen, left in Venice. National Geographic, "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/italy/find-epic-action-in-northern-italy.html," 22 Jan. 2020 It could be used as a weapon in hand-to-hand combat, a hammer or axe, an oar, and even as a cooking utensil. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Best Folding Shovels for Your Truck or Camping Kit," 9 Aug. 2019 Less than a mile out, Matthew Friendly cuts the motor on his 18-foot boat and pokes an oar into the cold murky waters of the Bering Sea. Simon Montlake, The Christian Science Monitor, "Will climate change force this Alaska village to relocate?," 1 July 2019 Inside are ancient rudders and oars, the largest collection of fórcole in the world, and one of the association’s 50 period boats. National Geographic, "https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/italy/find-epic-action-in-northern-italy.html," 22 Jan. 2020 Students competed for a small cash prize, a pizza gift certificate and a handmade oar. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Photos: It’s sink or be sunk for UAA students playing Canoe Battleship," 9 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Mute swans do put on bursts of speed by oaring with their huge webbed feet. National Geographic, "Swans Found to Windsurf Across Water," 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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Time Traveler for oar

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for oar

Last Updated

22 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Oar.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oar. Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for oar


How to pronounce oar (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on oar

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oar

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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