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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rower

Contemporary Examples of rower

Historical Examples of rower

  • The third, who was in the bows, exchanged some words with the rower, who replied.

    A Spirit in Prison

    Robert Hichens

  • She opened her eyes, and now she could see the boat again and the rower.

    The Call of the Blood

    Robert Smythe Hichens

  • I was upon the Styx, and in my rower I recognised the redoubtable Charon.

    The Quadroon

    Mayne Reid

  • The rower, startled by the sudden shout, turned quickly round.

    The Willoughby Captains

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • I didnt know those Mexicans were so thrifty, the rower went on.

British Dictionary definitions for rower


  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 rower



"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 rower


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.