from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Nautical The rear part of a ship or boat.
  • noun A rear part or section.
  • adjective Hard, harsh, or severe in manner or character: synonym: severe.
  • adjective Showing or expressing displeasure or disapproval; forbidding or harsh.
  • adjective Firm or unyielding; uncompromising.
  • adjective Difficult to endure; oppressive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as starn.
  • noun A tern.
  • To steer; guide.
  • To back (a boat) with the oars; back water; row backward.
  • To draw back; back water: said of a boat or its crew.
  • noun The rudder or helm of a vessel.
  • noun Hence, figuratively, any instrument of management or direction; a guiding agent or agency; also, a post of direction or control.
  • noun The hinder part of a ship or boat, where the rudder is placed; the part furthest removed from the stem or prow. See also cut under poop.
  • noun The hinder parts, backside, buttocks, or rump; the tail of an animal.
  • Severe in disposition or conduct; austere; harsh; rigorous; hard.
  • Characterized by severity or rigor; especially, resulting from or expressive of harshness: as, a stern reply; a stern glance; a stern rebuke.
  • Grim or forbidding in aspect; gloomy; repelling.
  • Rough; violent; tumultuous; fierce.
  • Rigid; stringent; strict.
  • Stout; strong; heavy.
  • Firm; unyielding; inflexible; hard.
  • Synonyms Severe. Harsh, Strict, etc. See austere.
  • 1 and
  • Unrelenting, uncompromising, inflexible.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Being in the stern, or being astern.
  • adjective (Naut.) a going or falling astern; a loss of way in making a tack. See Board, n., 8 (b).
  • adjective (Naut.) A stern chaser.
  • adjective (Naut.) a cannon placed in a ship's stern, pointing backward, and intended to annoy a ship that is in pursuit.
  • adjective (Naut.) a rope used to confine the stern of a ship or other vessel, as to a wharf or buoy.
  • adjective (Naut.) the framework of timber forms the stern of a ship.
  • adjective See Sternson.
  • adjective (Naut.) a port, or opening, in the stern of a ship.
  • adjective (Naut.) that part of an open boat which is between the stern and the aftmost seat of the rowers, -- usually furnished with seats for passengers.
  • adjective a paddle wheel attached to the stern of the steamboat which it propels.
  • noun (Zoöl.) The black tern.
  • adjective Having a certain hardness or severity of nature, manner, or aspect; hard; severe; rigid; rigorous; austere; fixed; unchanging; unrelenting; hence, serious; resolute; harsh
  • noun obsolete The helm or tiller of a vessel or boat; also, the rudder.
  • noun (Naut.) The after or rear end of a ship or other vessel, or of a boat; the part opposite to the stem, or prow.
  • noun Fig.: The post of management or direction.
  • noun The hinder part of anything.
  • noun The tail of an animal; -- now used only of the tail of a dog.
  • noun (Naut.) See By the head, under By.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Having a hardness and severity of nature or manner.
  • adjective Grim and forbidding in appearance.
  • noun nautical The rear part or after end of a ship or vessel.

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

  • adjective severely simple
  • noun the rear part of a ship
  • noun the fleshy part of the human body that you sit on
  • adjective severe and unremitting in making demands


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

[Middle English sterne, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse stjōrn, rudder; see stā- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English sterne, from Old English styrne; see ster- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English stern, sterne, sturne, from Old English styrne ("stern, grave, strict, austere, hard, severe, cruel"), from Proto-Germanic *sturnijaz (“angry, astonished, shocked”), from Proto-Indo-European *ster-, *ter- (“rigid, stiff”). Cognate with Scots stern ("bold, courageous, fierce, resolute"), Old High German stornēn ("to be astonished"), Dutch stuurs ("glum, austere"), Swedish stursk ("insolent").


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  • German for 'star'.

    January 9, 2008