Sailor Speak of the Week – Whipstaff

Definition

Illustration of how a whipstaff moves the rudder.

Noun

  • A vertical steering lever attached to the tiller of a sailing ship.

Origin

Unknown, but possibly from early German, wippen, meaning to move back and forth.

Comments

Whipstaffs were generally used from the 16th to the early 18th centuries. They came after the use of the tiller and preceded the use of the wheel for steering a ship.

References

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

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