rud·​der | \ ˈrə-dər How to pronounce rudder (audio) \

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 How to pronounce rudder (audio) \ adjective

Examples of rudder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some orders are particularly complex, like the sailboat, which included a keel and rudder, cabin, sails, even metal railings and pulleys. Nick Perry, Star Tribune, 21 May 2021 Crash investigators found that the plane could have been controllable if the pilot had initially applied the right rudder, according to the report. Tom Steele, Dallas News, 18 May 2021 The tail only moved vertically, which provided minimal pitch, while the rudder was located in the center of the fuselage, which offered little aerodynamic effect. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 May 2021 The stabilizing leg of Pieter Maes’s bronze table echoes the rounded contours of a ship’s rudder. WSJ, 25 Apr. 2021 A few hours into their trip, though, a fierce wind broke their sail and rudder, setting them adrift for eight days. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2021 Some orders are particularly complex, like the sailboat, which included a keel and rudder, cabin, sails, even metal railings and pulleys. Nick Perry, Star Tribune, 15 Apr. 2021 To make their flying machine more aerodynamic, Wilbur and Orville Wright stitched unbleached Pride of the West muslin fabric with a Singer sewing machine and stretched it across the aircraft’s wings, rudder and elevator. Leo Deluca, Scientific American, 1 Apr. 2021 After another day of digging, which had removed thousands of tons of sand, the ship’s rudder was largely exposed. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for rudder

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for rudder

Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rudder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce rudder (audio) \

Kids Definition of rudder

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

More from Merriam-Webster on rudder

Nglish: Translation of rudder for Spanish Speakers

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


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