[ ruhd-er-lis ]


  1. (of a boat, ship, or aircraft) lacking a rudder, the device or structure used to change direction and steer:

    I love the story of Columba, a priest in sixth-century Ireland, who got into a rudderless boat and let God and providence take him where he was meant to be.

  2. lacking purpose, leadership, moral principles, or anything else that might provide direction; aimless:

    The people are drifting and rudderless, without a vision to unify and motivate them and without a shared set of values.

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Word History and Origins

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Example Sentences

Perhaps we can just chalk that up to the continually rudderless leadership of McCarthy.

After the pandemic hit, one ingredient in China’s remarkable recovery was its ability to turn the rudder of its enormous industrial engine to the needs of the moment.

In a party without a frontrunner, and seemingly rudderless, Bush is the closest thing the GOP has to a consensus candidate.

But they will leave the country rudderless, the victory will be hollow, and the problems will be left to fester.

It could wind up being asked to form a coalition government—and probably will fail, leaving the country rudderless in the storm.

Foer is the kind of adult for whom a pre-Huggies life was rudderless.

It is hard to conceive a soul entirely cut loose from the old bones, and roving rudderless about eternity.

A rudderless little bark, she had been set adrift in so inviting, so welcoming a sea twenty years ago!

And yet we stand, and have stood for months, as a rudderless ship foundering in the trough of tremendous seas.

Theories without fact leave man in a rudderless boat; he gets nowhere, he merely drifts.

She glanced up at the blue sky, where snowy clouds drifted like rudderless ships at sea.