Sailor Speak of the Week – Whipstaff


Illustration of how a whipstaff moves the rudder.


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


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


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.


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

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