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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from rudder

rudderless \ ˈrə-​dər-​ləs How to pronounce rudderless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of rudder in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But for the days when the seas are rough, our support system, including technology, is the rudder. Colleen Johnson, Woman's Day, "How My Veteran Husband Copes with His War Injuries," 19 May 2019 According to Stars and Stripes, pieces of the plane’s left and right rudders were found two hours later. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Ends Search for Missing F-35 Fighter Jet," 10 May 2019 In December 2014, 162 people died when an AirAsia Airbus A320 crashed into waters off the island of Borneo after experiencing cascading electrical and rudder-system problems. Andrew Tangel, WSJ, "Boeing Faces Escalating Feud With Lion Air Over Plane Crash," 19 Dec. 2018 Mechanism and modding The heart of the rudder pedals is the actuation mechanism itself. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Thrustmaster TPR: The best flight sim pedals you can buy in a store like a normal person," 23 Sep. 2018 And during acceleration at takeoff, pilots steer left and right with rudder pedals, instead of the obvious control yoke in front of them. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "‘Video games’? Pilots wonder how plane thief learned to do aerial acrobatics," 13 Aug. 2018 The one-ton, barn-door-sized tail fin and rudders were simply gone. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Time a B-52 Landed Without a Tail Fin," 1 Aug. 2017 Helge Ingstad lost control of rudder and propulsion, and the ship sailed on out of control for ten minutes. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "How Confusion and Defects Led to a Norwegian Warship's Embarrassing Accident," 3 Dec. 2018 An intact 2,400-year-old rudder could help archaeologists answer more questions about the development of that technology. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "This ancient Greek ship is the oldest intact shipwreck ever discovered," 24 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rudder

Dictionary Entries near rudder





rudder angle

rudder bar

rudder bird

Statistics for rudder

Last Updated

26 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rudder

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on rudder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rudder

Spanish Central: Translation of rudder

Nglish: Translation of rudder for Spanish Speakers

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

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).


having no luck

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

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!