Astern means at the rear of a ship, boat, or plane. If your seat on an airplane is astern, you'll have to walk all the way to the very back to find it.

While you can use astern to mean "at the back" or "behind," it's most common to save this adjective for when you're on a sailboat or describing the tail section of an airplane. The word was originally nautical, meaning "toward the stern of the boat," or "at the back of the ship." One theory about the origin of astern and stern says their root is the Old Norse stjorn, "a steering."

Definitions of astern
  1. adverb
    at or near or toward the stern of a ship or tail of an airplane
    “the captain looked astern to see what the fuss was about”
    synonyms: abaft, aft
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    fore, forward
    near or toward the bow of a ship or cockpit of a plane
  2. adverb
    (of a ship or an airplane) behind
    “we dropped her astern on the end of a seven-inch manilla, and she laid comfortably on the ebb tide”
  3. adverb
    stern foremost or backward
    “the steamer went astern at half speed”
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DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘astern'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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