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pad·dle 1 (pădl)
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n.
1. An implement with a flat blade at one or both ends, held in the hands without an oarlock and passed through the water to propel a small boat such as a canoe.
2. Any of various implements resembling the paddle of a boat or canoe, as:
a. Sports A light wooden or plastic racket used in playing table tennis, platform tennis, and similar games.
b. A flat board with a handle used to administer physical punishment.
c. A blade or shovellike implement used for stirring or mixing.
3. Medicine A flat electrode that is part of a defibrillator and is put on a patient's chest to deliver an electric shock to the heart.
4. A board on a paddle wheel.
5. A flipper or flattened appendage of certain animals.
6. Botany See pad1.
7. The act of paddling.
v. pad·dled, pad·dling, pad·dles
v.intr.
1. Nautical
a. To propel a watercraft with paddles or a paddle.
b. To row slowly and gently.
2. To move through water by means of repeated short strokes of the limbs.
v.tr.
1. Nautical
a. To propel (a watercraft) with paddles or a paddle.
b. To convey in a watercraft propelled by paddles.
2. To spank or beat with a paddle, especially as a punishment.
3. To stir or shape (material) with a paddle.

[Middle English padell, spadelike tool used to clean plowshares, hoe; perhaps akin to spatyl, spatula, from Old French spatule, from Latin spatula, flat piece of wood; see SPATULA.]

paddler n.
(click for a larger image)
paddle1
left to right: paddleball, canoe, and kayak paddles

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
pad·dle 2 (pădl)
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intr.v. pad·dled, pad·dling, pad·dles
1. To dabble about in shallow water; splash gently with the hands or feet.
2. To move with a waddling motion; toddle.

[Perhaps of Low German origin.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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