American Dictionary of the English Language

Webster's Dictionary 1828

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STERN, adjective [G., staring; stubborn. See Stare, Starck, Stark, with which this word is probably connected.]

1. Severe; austere; fixed with an aspect of severity and authority; as a stern look; a stern countenance; a stern frown.

I would outstare the sternest eyes that look.

2. Severe of manner; rigid; harsh; cruel.

STERN as tutors, and as uncles hard.

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.

3. Hard; afflictive.

If wolves had at thy gate howld that stern time.

4. Rigidly stedfast; immovable.

STERN virtue is the growth of few soils.

STERN, noun

1. The hind part of a ship or other vessel, or of a boat; the part opposite to the stern or prow. This part of a ship is terminated by the tafferel above, and by the counters below.

2. Post of management; direction.

An sit at chiefest stern of public weal. [Not in use. We now say, to sit at the helm.]

3. The hinder part of any thing. [Not elegant.]

By the stern is a phrase which denotes that a ship is more deeply laden abaft than forward.