Part of speech: adverb
Origin: Middle English, 17th century
Behind or toward the rear of a ship or aircraft.
(of a ship) Backward; stern foremost.
Examples of Astern in a sentence
"Emma’s daughter sat in the front of the boat while Emma sat astern and talked with the man working the outboard motor."
"In a traditional canoe, the paddler who sits astern is responsible for steering the vessel."
Popularity Over Time
“Astern” is simply a compound of “a-” (meaning “toward”) and “stern,” a term derived from the Old Norse “stjórn,” meaning “control.” It’s also a root for the word “to steer.”
Did you Know?
Nautical terms for direction are different from those used on land. The opposite of “stern,” meaning the rear of a vessel, is “bow,” meaning the front. In place of “left” and “right,” nautical language uses “port” and “starboard.” All of these terms entered English between the 16th and 17th centuries, mostly from Old Norse and Germanic roots. However, while the words “astarboard,” “a-port,” and “abow” still exist in rare occasions, only “astern” is an adverb still in common usage.