a part or division of a ship, formerly the part containing the steering apparatus.
(in a passenger ship) the part or accommodations allotted to the passengers who travel at the cheapest rate.

Nearby words

  1. steeplechasing,
  2. steeplejack,
  3. steeply,
  4. steer,
  5. steer clear of,
  6. steerageway,
  7. steerer,
  8. steerhide,
  9. steering,
  10. steering column

Origin of steerage

First recorded in 1400–50, steerage is from the late Middle English word sterage. See steer1, -age Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for steerage

British Dictionary definitions for steerage



the cheapest accommodation on a passenger ship, originally the compartments containing the steering apparatus
an instance or the practice of steering and the effect of this on a vessel or vehicle
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 steerage



mid-15c., "action of steering," from steer (v.) + -age. Meaning "part of a ship in front of the chief cabin" is from 1610s; originally where the steering apparatus of the ship was, it retained the name after the introduction of the deck wheel in early 18c.; hence meaning "section of a ship with the cheapest accommodations," first recorded 1804.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper