\ˈräd \

Definition of rod 

1a(1) : a straight slender stick growing on or cut from a tree or bush

(2) : osier

(3) : a stick or bundle of twigs used to punish also : punishment

(4) : a shepherd's cudgel

(5) : a pole with a line and usually a reel attached for fishing

b(1) : a slender bar (as of wood or metal)

(2) : a bar or staff for measuring

(3) : scepter also : a wand or staff carried as a badge of office (as of marshal)

2a : a unit of length — see Weights and Measures Table

b : a square rod

3 : any of the long rod-shaped photosensitive receptors in the retina responsive to faint light — compare cone sense 3a

4 : a rod-shaped bacterium

5 slang : handgun

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from rod

rodless \ˈräd-​ləs \ adjective
rodlike \ˈräd-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of rod in a Sentence

arrested for using a rod on his dogs in violation of the state's animal cruelty laws

Recent Examples on the Web

According to the officials, the sensor rod was bent by a little more than six degrees, and this happened during assembly of the rocket. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Scotland’s NIMBY problem, SpaceX test firing, Soyuz mishap," 2 Nov. 2018 The elderly men on the flight to Missoula were way too chipper with their fishing rods. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "I Ditched My Phone for a Montana Cattle Drive (and Finally Dealt With My Feelings)," 3 Oct. 2018 An antenna is typically a collection of metal rods that pick up passing radio waves and convert their energy into an electrical current, which is then amplified. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "A new antenna using single atoms could usher in the age of atomic radio," 19 Sep. 2018 The fuel is made out of hollow metal rods packed with uranium pellets. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Have nuclear fuel transportation cask, will travel," 3 Aug. 2018 Moose and bison heads and mounted fish overlook rows of dip nets and more than 1,000 kinds of fishing rods. Anchorage Daily News, "‘Pretty devastating’: After years of poor king salmon runs, renowned Kenai River sport fishing community adjusts," 7 July 2018 However, most extinct dinosaurs have hyoid structures that are more like those of crocodilians—a simple pair of short rods. Mindy Weisberger, Scientific American, "T. Rex Couldn’t Stick Out Its Tongue," 24 June 2018 Don't miss the Kool-Aid purple ribbed aluminum siding, window grilles woven of peacock blue aluminum rods and the blue, solid aluminum front door. Janet Eastman,, "Step inside Portland's famous modern homes (photos)," 14 May 2018 At least four double hook-ups — a strike on each of two rods at the same time — kept the Farahs on their fishing toes, laughing and shouting like toddlers on a playground. Ralph Winingham, San Antonio Express-News, "Father-son share saltwater connection on birthday trip," 29 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of rod

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

History and Etymology for rod

Middle English, from Old English rodd; akin to Old Norse rudda club

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rod

Statistics for rod

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rod

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rod



English Language Learners Definition of rod

: a straight, thin stick or bar

: a pole with a line and usually a reel that is used in fishing

: a stick used to hit or whip someone as a form of punishment


\ˈräd \

Kids Definition of rod

1 : a light flexible pole often with line and a reel attached used in fishing

2 : a stick or bundle of twigs used in whipping a person

3 : a straight slender stick or bar

4 : a measure of length equal to 16¹/₂ feet (about 5 meters)

5 : a cell of the retina of the eye that is shaped like a rod and is sensitive to faint light


\ˈräd \

Medical Definition of rod 

1 : a straight slender pole or bar

2 : any of the long rod-shaped photosensitive receptors in the retina responsive to faint light — compare cone sense 2a

3 : a bacterium shaped like a rod

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on rod

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rod

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rod

Spanish Central: Translation of rod

Nglish: Translation of rod for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rod for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about rod

Comments on rod

What made you want to look up rod? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!