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From Middle English sterbord, stere-bourd, stere-burd, from Old English stēorbord, from Proto-West Germanic *steurubord, equivalent to steer +‎ board (side (of a ship)), referring to ancient ships with the steering oar set to the right (to accommodate right-handed crew). Ships had to dock on their left (port) side because the steering oar on the right would get in the way, which is how the left became known as the port side.[1]


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈstɑɹbɚd/
  • (file)


starboard (countable and uncountable, plural starboards)

  1. The righthand side of a ship, boat or aircraft when facing the front, or fore or bow. Used to unambiguously refer to directions according to the sides of the vessel, rather than those of a crew member or object.
    Synonym: right
    Antonyms: port, backboard, larboard, leeboard, left
    I see another vessel off the starboard side.
    We're on starboard tack, so the other boat has to give way.
  2. (nautical) One of the two traditional watches aboard a ship standing a watch in two.

Derived terms[edit]



starboard (third-person singular simple present starboards, present participle starboarding, simple past and past participle starboarded)

  1. (nautical, transitive) To put to the right, or starboard, side of a vessel.
    to starboard the helm


See also[edit]


  1. ^ “Why do ships use "port" and "starboard" instead of "left" and "right?"”, in Facts[1], NOAA, en, retrieved 2023-04-19