Friday, June 9, 2023

    Why is the boat’s back called the stern?

    When it comes to boating, every part of a boat has its own unique name. One such part is the back of the boat, which is called the stern. But have you ever wondered why it’s called that? Here’s a brief history of how this important nautical term came about.

    Firstly, let’s get clear on what we mean by the “back” of a boat. The back is the end opposite to the front, or bow, of the boat. The stern is not only the back of the boat, but it’s also the part that faces the direction of travel.

    The term “stern” is derived from the Old Norse word “stjorn,” meaning the steering gear of a boat. In early boats, the rear of the vessel was where the steering oar or rudder was located. Pilots and seafarers would operate the steering gear from the stern in order to steer the boat in the correct direction. As such, the term “stern” eventually became associated with the back of the boat.

    - Advertisement -

    Another theory behind how the stern got its name is that it comes from the Latin word “sternere,” which means “to spread out.” This refers to how the boat’s bow would spread out and cut through the water as it moved forward, while the stern would spread out and flow behind the boat.

    The stern of a boat is a crucial part of its design and functionality. It not only helps with steering, but it also helps with stability and balance. Some boats have a flat stern, while others have a pointed or rounded one. The shape of the stern can affect the boat’s speed, maneuverability, and overall performance.

    Today, the term “stern” is still widely used in the boating world, and it’s an important part of a boater’s vocabulary. So, the next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to appreciate the significance of the boat’s stern and the role it plays in the vessel’s performance.

    - Advertisement -
    Have something to add or correct? Please let us know by clicking here.
    * See disclaimer in the footer of the site for use of this content.

    Related Questions

    Latest Posts

    Don't Miss

    Our Newsletter

    Get the latest boating tips, fishing resources and featured products in your email from!