Definition of Stern

The stern is the rear part of a boat. It usually houses the tiller and rudder, used for steering the boat, as well as the motor, engine, storage, or cleats, depending on the boat’s design.

The stern of a boat is also a core part of navigation, as it holds the stern light, a white navigation light visible from 2 nautical miles away across a 135-degree arc.

Vertical LED Stern Lamp from Apex Lighting

Beyond containing the engine, the stern plays a crucial part in the speed and hydrodynamics of a boat, mainly based on the design of the transom—the structural part of the stern where the two sides of the hull meet.

Here’s a brief overview of stern designs and how they impact a boat’s performance:

Stern / Transom Design Description Of Stern Benefit For Boat Use
Raked Longer at the top and tapers sharply inward at the bottom Improves speed of racing sailboats by increasing waterline length, which generates longer, faster waves
Flat Rear view looks like a semicircle Adds strength and structural rigidity for larger boats
Canoe Pointed and narrow like the front of a canoe Decreases resistance to waves both while moored or underway
Reverse Back of the boat angles inward often creating a platform or steps Makes rear access to the water easier and improves speed because of the reduced the weight of the boat’s overhang

Example of Stern in a Sentence

"The stern of a boat is the back part of it that usually holds the engine."

Synonyms: back, rear

Related Terms for Stern