August 23, 2011
- starboard (noun)
- What does it mean?
- : the right side of a ship or aircraft looking forward
- How do you use it?
- Suddenly, an ice floe loomed out of the fog, but the ship's captain spun the wheel to starboard and just missed it.
- Are you a word wiz?
Which sentence do you think correctly explains why "starboard" came to be used for the right side of a ship?Despite the "star-" part of the word, "starboard" has nothing to do with the stars. The word "starboard" descends from Old English "steorbord," a combination of "steor" ("steering oar, rudder") and "bord" ("side of a ship"). Early Germanic seacraft such as those used by the Angles and Saxons who invaded Britain were steered by using a long oar attached to the right side of a ship, making the right side of the ship the steering side. "Starboard" used to be contrasted with "larboard," from Middle English "laddebord" which is of unknown origin. In the 1800s, "port" replaced "larboard." "Port" is also a nautical mystery, since there is no sure connection between the left side of a ship and "port" meaning "harbor" or "gate."