rud·​der | \ˈrə-dər \

Definition of rudder 

1 : an underwater blade that is positioned at the stern of a boat or ship and controlled by its helm and that when turned causes the vessel's head to turn in the same direction

2 : a movable auxiliary airfoil on an airplane usually attached at the rear end that serves to control direction of flight in the horizontal plane — see airplane illustration

3 : a guiding force or strategy

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Other Words from rudder

rudderless \ ˈrə-​dər-​ləs \ adjective

Examples of rudder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The downside is that in today’s systems, beside the joystick, rudder pedals, and maybe a throttle lever, all the controls are digital renderings. Eric Adams, WIRED, "VR Pilot Training Now Comes With a Sense of Touch," 26 June 2018 The alert said a breaker connected to a rudder tripped Friday morning while the vessel was en route from Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard to Woods Hole in Falmouth. Matt Rocheleau,, "Mechanical problems force cancellation of two Steamship Authority ferry trips," 8 June 2018 In 2003, the rudder of the USS Connecticut was chewed by a polar bear while it was surfaced. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, "How the Navy Punches a Nuclear Sub Through Arctic Ice," 5 Apr. 2018 Today pilots who spend relatively little time with yoke-and-rudder steering may not be proficient when the flight-management computers suddenly disengage. Gregg Easterbrook, WSJ, "‘The Efficiency Paradox’ Review: Big Data, Big Problems," 22 Apr. 2018 Today, as before the incident, planes also undergo hours maintenance inspections, which come in waves—pneumatics checks on the rudder and wing flaps one night, then hours of emergency tests on inflatable slides the next. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Airlines Are Doing to Prevent Another Southwest Disaster," 20 Apr. 2018 On the way down, having lost power on one side, the pilots would adjust their rudders, flaps, and other flight control surfaces to keep the aircraft balanced. Jack Stewart, WIRED, "How Southwest Flight 1380's Pilots Landed With a Blown Engine," 17 Apr. 2018 The Coast Guard concluded that the rudder probably stayed in place and the Alaska Ranger had a major breach in the stern portion of the hull. Anchorage Daily News, "A decade after the Alaska Ranger sank, a survivor changes his story," 13 Apr. 2018 Aircraft rudders and wing flaps have for decades been made in cities like Toulouse, and Seattle and that’s why the UAE has taken the industry by surprise. Grant Smith, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. to dominate oil markets in years ahead," 5 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rudder.' 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 rudder

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rudder

Middle English rother, from Old English rōther paddle; akin to Old English rōwan to row

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Dictionary Entries near rudder





rudder angle

rudder bar

rudder bird

Statistics for rudder

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Time Traveler for rudder

The first known use of rudder was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for rudder



English Language Learners Definition of rudder

: a flat, movable piece usually of wood or metal that is attached to a ship, boat, airplane, etc., and is used in steering


rud·​der | \ˈrə-dər \

Kids Definition of rudder

: a movable flat piece attached at the rear of a ship or aircraft for steering

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Comments on rudder

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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