Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[ruhd-er] /ˈrʌd ər/
Nautical. a vertical blade at the stern of a vessel that can be turned horizontally to change the vessel's direction when in motion.
Aeronautics. a movable control surface attached to a vertical stabilizer, located at the rear of an airplane and used, along with the ailerons, to turn the airplane.
any means of or device for governing, directing, or guiding a course, as a leader or principle:
His ideas provided a rudder for the new company.
Origin of rudder
before 900; Middle English rodder, rother, ruder, Old English rōther; cognate with Old Frisian rōther, Middle Dutch rōder (Dutch roer), Old High German ruodar (German Ruder); akin to row2
Related forms
ruddered, adjective
rudderless, adjective
rudderlike, adjective
unruddered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for rudderless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He felt as he had at his father's death, rudderless, derelict.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • Without it she was like a rudderless boat on an endless sea, and he knew it.

    Jennie Gerhardt Theodore Dreiser
  • He can never get a ship: his career's cut short, he's a rudderless boat.

  • He accepts his life as a rudderless ship, drifting on the ocean of time.

    The Majesty of Calmness William George Jordan
  • One is left compassless, rudderless, chartless on a sea of ideas.

  • A man who is all theory is like "a rudderless ship on a shoreless sea."

  • A fair ship is she, but rudderless, and the wind blows on the rocks.

    Idolatry Julian Hawthorne
  • To be without it is to be like a rudderless air ship tossed by the waves of the relentless ocean.

    Kilo Ellis Parker Butler
  • But here he was as a mariner adrift in midocean, in a rudderless ship, without sails or compass.

    The Gilded Man Clifford Smyth
British Dictionary definitions for rudderless


(nautical) a pivoted vertical vane that projects into the water at the stern of a vessel and can be controlled by a tiller, wheel, or other apparatus to steer the vessel
a vertical control surface attached to the rear of the fin used to steer an aircraft, in conjunction with the ailerons
anything that guides or directs
Derived Forms
rudderless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English rōther; related to Old French rōther, Old High German ruodar, Old Norse rōthr. See row²
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 rudderless



Old English roðor "paddle, oar," from Proto-Germanic *rothru- (cf. Old Frisian roðer, Middle Low German roder, Middle Dutch roeder, Dutch roer, Old High German ruodar, German Ruder "oar"), from *ro- "steer" (see row (v.)) + suffix -þra, used to form neutral names of tools. Meaning "broad, flat piece of wood attached to the stern of a boat and used for steering" is from c.1300. Spelling with -d- for -th- first recorded mid-15c. (cf. feather, mother, gather).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for rudderless

Word Value for rudderless

Scrabble Words With Friends