See more synonyms for row on
  1. a number of persons or things arranged in a line, especially a straight line: a row of apple trees.
  2. a line of persons or things so arranged: The petitioners waited in a row.
  3. a line of adjacent seats facing the same way, as in a theater: seats in the third row of the balcony.
  4. a street formed by two continuous lines of buildings.
  5. Music. tone row.
  6. Checkers. one of the horizontal lines of squares on a checkerboard; rank.
verb (used with object)
  1. to put in a row (often followed by up).
  1. hard/long row to hoe, a difficult task or set of circumstances to confront: At 32 and with two children, she found attending medical school a hard row to hoe.

Origin of row

1175–1225; Middle English row(e); compare Old English rǣw


verb (used without object)
  1. to propel a vessel by the leverage of an oar or the like.
verb (used with object)
  1. to propel (a vessel) by the leverage of an oar or the like.
  2. to convey in a boat that is rowed.
  3. to convey or propel (something) in a manner suggestive of rowing.
  4. to require, use, or be equipped with (a number of oars): The captain's barge rowed twenty oars.
  5. to use (oarsmen) for rowing.
  6. to perform or participate in by rowing: to row a race.
  7. to row against in a race: Oxford rows Cambridge.
  1. an act, instance, or period of rowing: It was a long row to the far bank.
  2. an excursion in a rowboat: to go for a row.

Origin of row

before 950; Middle English rowen, Old English rōwan; cognate with Old Norse rōa; akin to Latin rēmus oar. Cf. rudder
Related formsrow·a·ble, adjectiverow·er, nounun·der·row·er, noun


  1. a noisy dispute or quarrel; commotion.
  2. noise or clamor.
verb (used without object)
  1. to quarrel noisily.
verb (used with object)
  1. Chiefly British. to upbraid severely; scold.

Origin of row

First recorded in 1740–50; origin uncertain

Synonyms for row

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for row

Contemporary Examples of row

Historical Examples of row

  • I promise you I shall not, Mr. Bines; they can row if they like.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • A boat was got ready, and the captain got in, with four sailors to row.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • This box was lined with a row of bunks, one above the other.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • The train was drawn up, with hardly anybody about its row of open doors.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Then they disappeared like a row of post-holes into the distance.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for row


  1. an arrangement of persons or things in a linea row of chairs
    1. mainly Britisha street, esp a narrow one lined with identical houses
    2. (capital when part of a street name)Church Row
  2. a line of seats, as in a cinema, theatre, etc
  3. maths a horizontal linear arrangement of numbers, quantities, or terms, esp in a determinant or matrix
  4. a horizontal rank of squares on a chessboard or draughtboard
  5. in a row in succession; one after the otherhe won two gold medals in a row
  6. a hard row to hoe a difficult task or assignment

Word Origin for row

Old English rāw, rǣw; related to Old High German rīga line, Lithuanian raiwe strip


  1. a noisy quarrel or dispute
  2. a noisy disturbance; commotionwe couldn't hear the music for the row next door
  3. a reprimand
  4. give someone a row informal to scold someone; tell someone off
  1. (intr often foll by with) to quarrel noisily
  2. (tr) archaic to reprimand

Word Origin for row

C18: origin unknown


  1. to propel (a boat) by using oars
  2. (tr) to carry (people, goods, etc) in a rowing boat
  3. to be propelled by means of (oars or oarsmen)
  4. (intr) to take part in the racing of rowing boats as a sport, esp in eights, in which each member of the crew pulls one oarCompare scull (def. 6)
  5. (tr) to race against in a boat propelled by oarsOxford row Cambridge every year
  1. an act, instance, period, or distance of rowing
  2. an excursion in a rowing boat
See also row over
Derived Formsrower, nounrowing, noun

Word Origin for row

Old English rōwan; related to Middle Dutch roien, Middle High German rüejen, Old Norse rōa, Latin rēmus oar
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 row

"line of people or things," Old English ræw "a row, line; succession, hedge-row," probably from Proto-Germanic *rai(h)waz (cf. Middle Dutch rie, Dutch rij "row;" Old High German rihan "to thread," riga "line;" German Reihe "row, line, series;" Old Norse rega "string"), possibly from PIE root *rei- "to scratch, tear, cut" (cf. Sanskrit rikhati "scratches," rekha "line"). Meaning "a number of houses in a line" is attested from mid-15c., originally chiefly Scottish and northern English. Phrase a hard row to hoe attested from 1823, American English.


"propel with oars," Old English rowan "go by water, row" (class VII strong verb; past tense reow, past participle rowen), from Proto-Germanic *ro- (cf. Old Norse roa, Dutch roeien, West Frisian roeije, Middle High German rüejen), from PIE root *ere- (1) "to row" (cf. Sanskrit aritrah "oar;" Greek eressein "to row," eretmon "oar," trieres "trireme;" Latin remus "oar;" Lithuanian iriu "to row," irklas "oar;" Old Irish rome "oar," Old English roðor "rudder").


"noisy commotion," 1746, Cambridge University slang, of uncertain origin, perhaps related to rousel "drinking bout" (c.1600), a shortened form of carousal. Klein suggests a back-formation from rouse (n.), mistaken as a plural (cf. pea from pease).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with row


see get one's ducks in a row; kick up a fuss (row); skid row; tough row to hoe.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.