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From Middle English ladebord, referring to the side of the ship on which cargo was loaded. Changed to larboard in the 16th century by association with starboard.


larboard (usually uncountable, plural larboards)

  1. (obsolete, nautical) The left side of a ship, looking from the stern forward to the bow; port side.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 2,[1]
      [] harder beset
      And more endangered than when Argo passed
      Through Bosporus betwixt the justling rocks,
      Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
      Charybdis, and by th’ other whirlpool steered.
    • 1841, Edgar Allan Poe, “A Descent into the Maelström[2]
      The boat made a sharp half-turn to larboard, and then shot off in its new direction like a thunderbolt.
    • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, Book One, Chapter 17,[3]
      Suddenly the foremost Martian lowered his tube and discharged a canister of the black gas at the ironclad. It hit her larboard side and glanced off in an inky jet that rolled away to seaward, an unfolding torrent of Black Smoke, from which the ironclad drove clear.

Usage notes[edit]

In the Royal Navy it was not until 1844 that larboard was abandoned for port in reference to that side of the ship. The term port however had always been used when referring to the helm (ie. sailing direction), in order to avoid any confusion between starboard and larboard in such an important matter. (Reference: Ray Parkin, H. M. Bark Endeavour, Miegunyah Press, second edition 2003, ISBN 0-522-85093-6, page 56.)