Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[uh-sturn] /əˈstɜrn/
in a position behind a specified vessel or aircraft:
The cutter was following close astern.
in a backward direction:
The steamer went astern at half speed.
Origin of astern
First recorded in 1620-30; a-1 + stern2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for astern
Historical Examples
  • At the end of that mile Jonadab's craft's jib boom was just astern of Tobias's rudder.

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Came a succession of blows, not only on the port in the bow, but also on that astern.

  • By this time the wind was a gale, and he knew it was driving him astern, despite his rowing.

    The Harbor of Doubt Frank Williams
  • The open lake was astern of her, with clear sailing for two miles.

    Breaking Away Oliver Optic
  • In paddling the dugout the Indians all faced ahead, instead of astern as in rowing.

    Field and Forest Oliver Optic
  • The ship was sailing plungingly; astern the billows rolled in riots.

    Moby Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville
  • Many of them strove to swim off to us, but we left them astern.

    Early Australian Voyages John Pinkerton
  • Casting off the painter of the third cutter, he worked her astern, so as to avoid Peaks.

    Up The Baltic Oliver Optic
  • “I have made up my mind to haul her off astern,” answered Kydd.

    In the Wilds of Africa W.H.G. Kingston
  • It came at length, towards the end of the middle watch, and as before, astern.

    The Missing Ship W. H. G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for astern


adverb, adjective (postpositive) (nautical)
at or towards the stern
with the stern first: full speed astern!
aft of the stern of a vessel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for astern

1620s, from a- (1) "on" + stern (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for astern

Word Value for astern

Scrabble Words With Friends