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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for astern

aft, abaft, rear, rearward

Examples from the Web for astern

Historical Examples of astern

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for astern


adverb, adjective (postpositive) nautical

at or towards the stern
with the stern firstfull 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

Word Origin and History for astern

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper