AskDefine | Define tiller

Dictionary Definition



1 a shoot that sprouts from the base of a grass
2 someone who tills land (prepares the soil for the planting of crops)
3 lever used to turn the rudder on a boat
4 a farm implement used to break up the surface of the soil (for aeration and weed control and conservation of moisture) [syn: cultivator] v : grow shoots in the form of stools or tillers [syn: stool]

User Contributed Dictionary




Etymology 1

From till, the verb.


  1. A person who tills; a farmer.
  2. A machine that mechanically tills the soil.

Etymology 2

Anglo-Norman telier ‘beam used in weaving’, from mediaeval Latin telarium, from Latin tela ‘web’.


  1. The stock; a beam on a crossbow carved to fit the arrow, or the point of balance in a longbow.
  2. A bar of iron or wood connected with the rudderhead and leadline, usually forward, in which the rudder is moved as desired by the tiller (FM 55-501).
  3. Part of the rudder the helm holds to steer the boat, a piece of wood or metal extending forward from the rudder over or through the transom. Generally attached at the top of the rudder.
  4. A handle; a stalk.


part of the rudder
  • Finnish: pinna
Derived terms

Etymology 3

From Old English telgor "a small branch"


  1. A young tree.


  1. To put forth new shoots.


Extensive Definition

A tiller or till is a lever attached to a rudder post (American terminology) or rudder stock (English terminology) of a boat in order to provide the leverage for the helmsman to turn the rudder. The tiller is normally used by the helmsman directly pulling or pushing it, but it may also be moved remotely using tiller lines.
The tiller should never be jerked back and forth, the rapid motion of the tiller will cause an increase in speed. All steering movements should be smooth. In steering a boat, the tiller is always moved in the direction opposite of which the bow of the boat is to move. If the tiller is moved to port side (left), the bow will turn to starboard (right). If the tiller is moved to starboard (right), the bow will turn port (left). Sailing students often learn the alliterative phrase "Tiller Towards Trouble" to remind them of how to steer.
As the size of boat increases the power needed to control the rudder via a tiller becomes excessive. In the 21st century, tiller steering tends not to be used on new boats with an overall length in excess of approximately 10 metres, except on narrowboats on English canals where boats up to 72 feet long and steered by a tiller are being built.
In modern boats emergency tillers are often carried in case the steering wheel on a vessel fails to operate.
The first automobiles were steered with a tiller, but Packard introduced the steering wheel on the second car they built, in 1899. Within a decade, the steering wheel had entirely replaced the tiller in automobiles.
Arthur Constantin Krebs replaced the tiller with an inclined steering wheel for the Panhard & Levassor car he designed for the Paris-Amsterdam race which ran from the 7th to 13th of July 1898.
Tractor-drawn ladder trucks utilize a tiller (rear steering axle) driver to control the trailer where the aerial ladder is located.
tiller in German: Pinne (Schiffbau)
tiller in French: Barre (bateau)
tiller in Polish: Rumpel
tiller in Swedish: Rorkult

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Bauer, agriculturalist, agriculturist, agrologist, agronomist, coffee-planter, collective farm worker, crofter, cropper, cultivator, dirt farmer, dry farmer, farm laborer, farmer, farmhand, gentleman farmer, granger, grower, harvester, harvestman, haymaker, helm, husbandman, kibbutznik, kolkhoznik, kulak, muzhik, peasant, peasant holder, picker, planter, plowboy, plowman, raiser, rancher, ranchman, reaper, reins, reins of government, rudder, rustic, sharecropper, sower, tea-planter, tenant farmer, tree farmer, truck farmer, wheel, yeoman
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