Sailor Speak of the Week – Oar

Photo by Adrian Jozefowicz on Rowers using oars to propel their boat.



  • A long-handled, paddled implement for rowing (sometimes steering) a boat with.


Probably earlier than the 15th century. From Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon, ar; later Middle English, ore.


Doesn’t require much introduction. It has a long handle going through an oarlock and a flat-bladed end which goes into the water. Oars are known to power rowboats, rafts, gondolas, and ancient galleys. They can also be used as steering devices, acting as a sort of rudder.


Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport Museum.

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