1. a stick, wand, staff, or the like, of wood, metal, or other material.
  2. a straight, slender shoot or stem of any woody plant, whether still growing or cut from the plant.
  3. fishing rod.
  4. (in plastering or mortaring) a straightedge moved along screeds to even the plaster between them.
  5. a stick used for measuring.
  6. Archaic. a unit of linear measure, 5.5 yards or 16.5 feet (5.029 meters); linear perch or pole.
  7. Archaic. a unit of square measure, 30.25 square yards (25.29 sq. m); square perch or pole.
  8. a stick, or a bundle of sticks or switches bound together, used as an instrument of punishment.
  9. punishment or discipline: Not one to spare the rod, I sent him to bed without dinner.
  10. a wand, staff, or scepter carried as a symbol of office, authority, power, etc.
  11. authority, sway, or rule, especially when tyrannical.
  12. lightning rod.
  13. a slender bar or tube for draping towels over, suspending a shower curtain, etc.
  14. Bible. a branch of a family; tribe.
  15. a pattern, drawn on wood in full size, of one section of a piece of furniture.
  16. Slang.
    1. a pistol or revolver.
    2. Vulgar.the penis.
  17. Anatomy. one of the rodlike cells in the retina of the eye, sensitive to low intensities of light.Compare cone(def 5).
  18. Bacteriology. a rod-shaped microorganism.
  19. Also called leveling rod, stadia rod. Surveying. a light pole, conspicuously marked with graduations, held upright and read through a surveying instrument in leveling or stadia surveying.
  20. Metallurgy. round metal stock for drawing and cutting into slender bars.

verb (used with object), rod·ded, rod·ding.

  1. to furnish or equip with a rod or rods, especially lightning rods.
  2. to even (plaster or mortar) with a rod.
  3. Metallurgy. to reinforce (the core of a mold) with metal rods.


  1. a slim cylinder of metal, wood, etc; stick or shaft
  2. a switch or bundle of switches used to administer corporal punishment
  3. any of various staffs of insignia or office
  4. power, esp of a tyrannical kinda dictator’s iron rod
  5. a straight slender shoot, stem, or cane of a woody plant
  6. See fishing rod
  7. Also called: pole, perch
    1. a unit of length equal to 5 1/2 yards
    2. a unit of square measure equal to 30 1/4 square yards
  8. a straight narrow board marked with the dimensions of a piece of joinery, as the spacing of steps on a staircase
  9. a metal shaft that transmits power in axial reciprocating motionpiston rod, con(necting) rod Compare shaft (def. 5)
  10. surveying another name (esp US) for staff 1 (def. 8)
  11. Also called: retinal rod any of the elongated cylindrical cells in the retina of the eye, containing the visual purple (rhodopsin), which are sensitive to dim light but not to colourCompare cone (def. 5)
  12. any rod-shaped bacterium
  13. a slang word for penis
  14. US slang name for pistol (def. 1)
  15. short for hot rod

Old English rodd “a rod, pole,” which is probably cognate with Old Norse rudda “club,” from Proto-Germanic *rudd- “stick, club,” from PIE *reudh- “to clear land.”

As a long, tapering elastic pole for fishing, from mid-15c. Figurative sense of “offshoot” (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning “scion, tribe.” As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for “any sort of correction or punishment,” but the basic notion is of beating someone with a stick.

As a unit of measure (5½ yards or 16½ feet, also called perch or pole) first attested mid-15c., from the stick used to measure it off. As a measure of area, “a square perch,” from late 15c., the usual measure in brickwork. Meaning “light-sensitive cell in a retina” is from 1866, so-called for its shape. Slang meaning “penis” is recorded from 1902; that of “gun, revolver” is from 1903.


  1. A straight slender cylindrical formation.
  2. A rod cell.
  3. An elongated bacterium; a bacillus.

  1. One of the rod-shaped cells in the retina of the eye of many vertebrate animals. Rods are more sensitive to light than cones and are responsible for the ability to see in dim light. However, rods are insensitive to red wavelengths of light and do not contribute greatly to the perception of color. Compare cone.

see hot rod; spare the rod.

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