Vertical transom and stern of a modern cargo ship

In some boats and ships, a transom is the aft transverse surface of the hull that forms the stern of a vessel. Historically, they are a development from the canoe stern (or "double-ender") wherein which both bow and stern are pointed.

Transoms add both strength and width to the stern. They may be flat or curved and they may be vertical, raked forward (known as retroussé), or raked aft.[1] In small boats and yachts, this flat termination of the stern is typically above the waterline, but large commercial vessels often exhibit vertical transoms that dip slightly beneath the water.[2] On cruising boats, a counter stern may be truncated to form a "truncated counter stern", in which there is a part of the stern that approximates a transom.

Although that standard stern transom is typically vertical, they may be raked such that there is an overhang above the water, as at the bow. A reverse transom is angled from the waterline forwards.[3]

On smaller boats such as dinghies, transoms may be used to support a rudder, outboard motor, or a wind-generator pole. On cruising yachts, the transome may hinge outwards (when at anchor) to form a swimming-cum-access platform, and to provide a lazarette for deck items and leisure toys.[4]


The term was used as far back as Middle English in the 1300s, having come from Latin transversus (transverse) via Old French traversain (set crosswise).[1][5]



  1. ^ a b "transom". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  2. ^ "transom". Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  3. ^ Jordan, Richard (19 September 2009). "Stern Styles and Transom Types – Sugar Scoop, Reverse, Wineglass, Heartshaped, Canoe, Double Ended, Ducktail". Jordan Yacht Brokerage. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Transom Saver, Outboard Motor Support – Are They Needed?". PartsVu Xchange. 2020-04-30. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  5. ^ 2007 Collins dictionary