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[rod] /rɒd/
a stick, wand, staff, or the like, of wood, metal, or other material.
a straight, slender shoot or stem of any woody plant, whether still growing or cut from the plant.
(in plastering or mortaring) a straightedge moved along screeds to even the plaster between them.
a stick used for measuring.
Archaic. a unit of linear measure, 5.5 yards or 16.5 feet (5.029 meters); linear perch or pole.
Archaic. a unit of square measure, 30.25 square yards (25.29 sq. m); square perch or pole.
a stick, or a bundle of sticks or switches bound together, used as an instrument of punishment.
punishment or discipline:
Not one to spare the rod, I sent him to bed without dinner.
a wand, staff, or scepter carried as a symbol of office, authority, power, etc.
authority, sway, or rule, especially when tyrannical.
a slender bar or tube for draping towels over, suspending a shower curtain, etc.
Bible. a branch of a family; tribe.
a pattern, drawn on wood in full size, of one section of a piece of furniture.
  1. a pistol or revolver.
  2. Vulgar. the penis.
Anatomy. one of the rodlike cells in the retina of the eye, sensitive to low intensities of light.
Compare cone (def 5).
Bacteriology. a rod-shaped microorganism.
Also called leveling rod, stadia rod. Surveying. a light pole, conspicuously marked with graduations, held upright and read through a surveying instrument in leveling or stadia surveying.
Metallurgy. round metal stock for drawing and cutting into slender bars.
verb (used with object), rodded, rodding.
to furnish or equip with a rod or rods, especially lightning rods.
to even (plaster or mortar) with a rod.
Metallurgy. to reinforce (the core of a mold) with metal rods.
Origin of rod
late Old English
before 1150; Middle English rodd, late Old English; akin to Old Norse rudda club
Related forms
rodless, adjective
rodlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rodlike
Historical Examples
  • The rodlike part is called the hypocotyl (meaning under the cotyledons).

    A Civic Biology George William Hunter
  • A score of rodlike arms projected from the main trunk, arms that were equipped for nearly every purpose.

  • With lightning rapidity he was wrenching a thin, rodlike stick from a near-by white birch, and tearing the leaves off.

    A Scout of To-day Isabel Hornibrook
  • One aimed a rodlike contrivance at him, and there was another flare of light.

    The Secret of the Ninth Planet Donald Allen Wollheim
British Dictionary definitions for rodlike


a slim cylinder of metal, wood, etc; stick or shaft
a switch or bundle of switches used to administer corporal punishment
any of various staffs of insignia or office
power, esp of a tyrannical kind: a dictator's iron rod
a straight slender shoot, stem, or cane of a woody plant
Also called pole, perch
  1. a unit of length equal to 51/2 yards
  2. a unit of square measure equal to 301/4 square yards
a straight narrow board marked with the dimensions of a piece of joinery, as the spacing of steps on a staircase
a metal shaft that transmits power in axial reciprocating motion: piston rod, con(necting) rod Compare shaft (sense 5)
(surveying) another name (esp US) for staff1 (sense 8)
Also called retinal rod. any of the elongated cylindrical cells in the retina of the eye, containing the visual purple (rhodopsin), which are sensitive to dim light but not to colour Compare cone (sense 5)
any rod-shaped bacterium
a slang word for penis
(US) slang name for pistol (sense 1)
short for hot rod
Derived Forms
rodlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English rodd; related to Old Norse rudda club, Norwegian rudda, rydda twig
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
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Word Origin and History for rodlike



Old English rodd "a rod, pole," which is probably cognate with Old Norse rudda "club," from Proto-Germanic *rudd- "stick, club," from PIE *reudh- "to clear land."

As a long, tapering elastic pole for fishing, from mid-15c. Figurative sense of "offshoot" (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning "scion, tribe." As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for "any sort of correction or punishment," but the basic notion is of beating someone with a stick.

As a unit of measure (5½ yards or 16½ feet, also called perch or pole) first attested mid-15c., from the stick used to measure it off. As a measure of area, "a square perch," from late 15c., the usual measure in brickwork. Meaning "light-sensitive cell in a retina" is from 1866, so-called for its shape. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1902; that of "gun, revolver" is from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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rodlike in Medicine

rod (rŏd)

  1. A straight slender cylindrical formation.

  2. A rod cell.

  3. An elongated bacterium; a bacillus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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rodlike in Science
One of the rod-shaped cells in the retina of the eye of many vertebrate animals. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones and are responsible for the ability to see in dim light. However, rods are insensitive to red wavelengths of light and do not contribute greatly to the perception of color. Compare cone.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for rodlike



  1. A pistol: Here's a rod, blow your brains out (1903+ Underworld)
  2. A car, esp a specially prepared car; hot rod: A restless youth buys a broken-down rod (1940s+ Hot rodders)
  3. The penis; shaft (1902+)

Related Terms

have a rod on

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with rodlike
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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