Definition of berth in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /bərTH/


1A ship’s allotted place at a wharf or dock.
Example sentences
  • And although discussions are still ongoing, Scotland Yard today refused to rule out a mooring berth for the container-like ship off the coast.
  • We will now provide two finger wharves with 20 public berths and you'll see a total revamp.
  • The total quay length measures 2630m and the port offers 11 commercial shipping berths, a repair quay and a drydock.
mooring, dock, slip, anchorage;
wharf, pier, jetty, quay
2A fixed bed or bunk on a ship, train, or other means of transport.
Example sentences
  • It's rough being in the upper berth in a two-story train.
  • There are overweight ones who shudder at the thought of having to sleep on an upper berth in a train.
  • Check the sleeping arrangements carefully: There's usually a mix of larger cabins with full beds and tiny compartments with upper and lower berths.
bunk, bed, cot, couch, hammock
3 informal (Often in a sports context) a situation or position in an organization or event: today’s victory clinched a berth for the Orioles in the playoffs
More example sentences
  • The six gymnasts who competed on each event earned their berths at the semi-final competition held two weeks ago.
  • India also would be looking for a victory to book a berth in the finals as their final match is against Sri Lanka.
  • As she got used to the testing conditions, she pushed through to the third and final qualifying position, denying her opponent of a semi-final berth.


[with object]
1Moor (a ship) in its allotted place: these modern ships can almost berth themselves
More example sentences
  • However, this is a canal basin with a few barges on it, not a yachting marina where you berth a boat ready to sail.
  • Presently it is difficult to locate a mooring to berth a boat for the night, let alone find one to tie to while diving.
  • The Port Authority said it had to choose between berthing its own ferries and the cruise ship.
1.1 [no object] (Of a ship) dock: the Dutch freighter berthed at the Brooklyn docks
More example sentences
  • Having originally left the harbour on Sunday, February 16, the ship berthed in Florida at the Maritime Museum's dock.
  • Both of the children, agreeing their day was much better than being at school, spent several hours on the ship receiving a tour and lunch before the ship berthed.
  • The 21,000-ton ship berthed at Greenwich to commemorate the new affiliation between Illustrious and the City of London.
dock, moor, land, tie up, make fast
2(Of a passenger ship) provide a sleeping place for (someone).
Example sentences
  • Many of the passengers were berthed in the aircraft hangars, and although the hangar doors had been welded shut to give them some security, nothing could be done in a tempest like this to make anyone feel safe.
  • Passengers are berthed in Staterooms, on the forward Main Deck on all steamers, except "Columbia" and "Astoria," on which they are situated in after part of Spar and Main Decks.
  • We were berthed in the forward hold in tiers of hammocks.


give a wide berth

Steer (a ship) well clear of something while passing it: ships are advised to give a wide berth to the Outer Banks
More example sentences
  • When they neared Barbers Point they too saw a large column of ‘Army’ planes and so gave them a wide berth and continued on toward Ford Island.
  • Yet for all the masterful handling of the ship by the coxswain it became quite noticeable that we gave a wide berth to the other ship.
  • The anchor was weighed, the sails set and with the canoe in tow the little vessel bounded merrily over the waters, gave a wide berth to the reef, against whose frowning rocks the sea still lashed itself to foam, and kept away from the cove, where the English ship unconsciously awaited us.
1.1Stay away from someone or something: I’d sworn to give women a wide berth
More example sentences
  • The best approach is to avoid accidents and helmets actually lead to more accidents, so give them a wide berth and stay safe.
  • Certain methods of earning a living would be given a wide berth by most individuals, instinctively.
  • Every sensible consumer should be giving these products a wide berth.
avoid, shun, keep away from, stay away from, steer clear of, keep at arm's length, have nothing to do with;
dodge, sidestep, circumvent, skirt around


Early 17th century (in the sense 'adequate sea room'): probably from a nautical use of bear1 + -th2.

  • When we give someone a wide berth, or stay away from them, we are using a nautical expression. Berth shares a root with bear, ‘to carry’. Originally, in the early 17th century, it meant ‘sea room’, or space to turn or manoeuvre. It developed the sense ‘a ship's allotted place at a wharf or dock’, and could also mean the place where seamen stowed their chests, then later the space where the sailors themselves slept.

Words that rhyme with berth

birth, dearth, earth, firth, girth, mirth, Perth, worth

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: berth

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.