Feather One's Oar

(To.)

To feather an oar
is to turn the blade parallel with the surface of the water as the hands are moved forward for a fresh stroke. (The Greek pteron means both “an oar” and “a feather;” and the verb pteroö, to “furnish with oars” or “with feathers.”) The oar throws off the water in a feathery spray.

“He feathered his oars with such skill and dexterity.” Jolly Young Waterman.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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