Sailor Speak of the Week – Paddle

Photo by Vincent Gerbouin on
A person using a paddle.



  • An oar-like implement, usually shorter than an oar, used for rowing a boat with.


Probably earlier than the 12th century. From Middle English, padell.


Paddles are very similar to oars, but they differ in that they’re used without a fulcrum (oarlock). Paddles can also be shorter than oars and used with two hands. Rafts, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. often use paddles in conjunction with or instead of oars. Wayward sailors can also be whacked with paddles for their insolence and stupidity. You can also find yourself up shit creek without a paddle.


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

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