Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One that tills land: a tiller of soil.
  • n. Nautical A lever used to turn a rudder and steer a boat.
  • n. A shoot, especially one that sprouts from the base of a grass.
  • intransitive v. To send forth shoots from the base. Used of a grass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who tills; a farmer.
  • n. A machine that mechanically tills the soil.
  • n. A young tree.
  • n. A shoot of a plant which springs from the root or bottom of the original stalk; a sapling; a sucker.
  • v. To put forth new shoots from the root or from around the bottom of the original stalk; stool.
  • n. The stock; a beam on a crossbow carved to fit the arrow, or the point of balance in a longbow.
  • n. A bar of iron or wood connected with the rudderhead and leadline, usually forward, in which the rudder is moved as desired by the tiller (FM 55-501).
  • n. The handle of the rudder which the helmsman holds to steer the boat, a piece of wood or metal extending forward from the rudder over or through the transom. Generally attached at the top of the rudder.
  • n. A handle; a stalk.
  • n. (obsolete) A small drawer; a till.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who tills; a husbandman; a cultivator; a plowman.
  • n.
  • n. A shoot of a plant, springing from the root or bottom of the original stalk; a sucker.
  • n. A sprout or young tree that springs from a root or stump.
  • n. A young timber tree.
  • n. A lever of wood or metal fitted to the rudder head and used for turning side to side in steering. In small boats hand power is used; in large vessels, the tiller is moved by means of mechanical appliances. See Illust. of rudder. Cf. 2d helm, 1.
  • n. The stalk, or handle, of a crossbow; also, sometimes, the bow itself.
  • n. The handle of anything.
  • n. A small drawer; a till.
  • intransitive v. To put forth new shoots from the root, or round the bottom of the original stalk

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To put forth new shoots from the root, or round the bottom of the original stalk; stool: said of a plant: as, wheat or rye tillers, or spreads by tillering. Also tillow.
  • n. One who tills; a husbandman; a cultivator; a plowman.
  • n. A drawer in a table, chest, or counter; a till.
  • n. A bar or staff used as a lever, or as the handle of an implement.
  • n. Nautical, the bar or lever fitted to the head of a rudder, and employed to turn the helm of a ship or boat in steering. See cut under rudder.
  • n. The handle of a spade.
  • n. The handle of a pit-saw, especially the upper one, having across-head. Wright. See cut under pit-saw.
  • n. A shoot of a plant which springs from the root or bottom of the original stalk; also, a sapling or sucker.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. lever used to turn the rudder on a boat
  • n. someone who tills land (prepares the soil for the planting of crops)
  • v. grow shoots in the form of stools or tillers
  • n. a shoot that sprouts from the base of a grass
  • n. a farm implement used to break up the surface of the soil (for aeration and weed control and conservation of moisture)

Etymologies

Middle English tiler, stock of a crossbow, from Old French telier, from Medieval Latin tēlārium, weaver's beam, from Latin tēla, web, weaver's beam; see teks- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English *tiller, from Old English telgor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From till +‎ -er. (Wiktionary)
From Middle English *tilȝer, *telȝer, from Old English telgor, telgra, telgre ("twig, branch, shoot"; also telga, telge > tillow), from Proto-Germanic *telgô, *telgōn (“twig, branch”), from Proto-Indo-European *delgʰ- (“to split, divide, cut, carve”). Cognate with Dutch telg ("descendant, scion, offshoot, shoot"), Low German telge ("twig, branch"), German Zelge ("twig, branch, bough"), Swedish telning ("branch, scion, sapling"), Icelandic tág ("willow-twig"). (Wiktionary)
Anglo-Norman telier ("beam used in weaving"), from Medieval Latin telarium, from Latin tela ("web"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Your steady hand on the tiller is very much missed -- it's an ill wind that is not a Chetwynd!

    Christmas Luncheon

  • Assuming that your question is not rhetorical: a tiller is the "stick" you use on a sailboat to control the rudder and steer the boat.

    Snap Polls Give Debate Win To Obama

  • The tiller is a tool to cultivate and prepare the soil.

    Castro Speech at 29 Mar Potato Harvest Ceremony

  • Braced against the tiller was a man in drenched tarpaulins; two other men were holding on to the shrouds like grim death.

    A Village of Vagabonds

  • Marah lying over the tiller was the next thing which I saw; he was dead, I thought.

    Jim Davis

  • The tiller is a piece of board three feet long, two inches wide, and one inch thick, having a V-shaped notch at the lower end to fit on the handle and small notches on its side two inches apart, for a distance of twenty-eight inches.

    Hunting with the Bow and Arrow

  • Within a few feet of the tiller was a deck-house, in which the crew ate, built of solid oak and clamped with iron.

    The Virgin of the Sun

  • Pointe-aux-Herbes and the eastern skyline beyond, he and Sweetheart alone, his hand clasping hers -- the tiller, that is -- hour by hour, and the small waves tiptoeing to kiss her southern cheek as she leaned the other away from the saucy north wind.

    Strong Hearts

  • The man holding the tiller was a sardine fisher, to whom every rock, every ripple, of these troubled waters was familiar.

    The Slave of the Lamp

  • Affections for old habit, currents of self-interest, and gales of passion are the forces that keep the human ship moving; and the pressure of the judicious pilot's hand upon the tiller is a relatively insignificant energy.

    Memories and Studies

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