AskDefine | Define wharf

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wharf \Wharf\, n.; pl. Wharfsor Wharves. [AS. hwerf, hwearf, a returning, a change, from hweorfan to turn, turn about, go about; akin to D. werf a wharf, G. werft, Sw. varf a shipbuilder's yard, Dan. verft wharf, dockyard, G. werben to enlist, to engage, woo, OHG. werban to turn about, go about, be active or occupied, Icel. hverfa to turn, Goth. hwa['i]rban, hwarb[=o]n, to walk. Cf. Whirl.] [1913 Webster]
A structure or platform of timber, masonry, iron, earth, or other material, built on the shore of a harbor, river, canal, or the like, and usually extending from the shore to deep water, so that vessels may lie close alongside to receive and discharge cargo, passengers, etc.; a quay; a pier. [1913 Webster] Commerce pushes its wharves into the sea. --Bancroft. [1913 Webster] Out upon the wharfs they came, Knight and burgher, lord and dame. --Tennyson. [1913 Webster] Note: The plural of this word is generally written wharves in the United States, and wharfs in England; but many recent English writers use wharves. [1913 Webster]
[AS. hwearf.] The bank of a river, or the shore of the sea. [Obs.] "The fat weed that roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf." --Shak. [1913 Webster] Wharf boat, a kind of boat moored at the bank of a river, and used for a wharf, in places where the height of the water is so variable that a fixed wharf would be useless. [U. S.] --Bartlett. Wharf rat. (Zool.) (a) The common brown rat. (b) A neglected boy who lives around the wharfs. [Slang] [1913 Webster] [1913 Webster]
Wharf \Wharf\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Wharfed; p. pr. & vb. n. Wharfing.] [1913 Webster]
To guard or secure by a firm wall of timber or stone constructed like a wharf; to furnish with a wharf or wharfs. [1913 Webster]
To place upon a wharf; to bring to a wharf. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

wharf n : a platform built out from the shore into the water and supported by piles; provides access to ships and boats [syn: pier, wharfage, dock]


1 provide with a wharf; "Wharf the mouth of the river"
2 store on a wharf; "Wharf the merchandise"
3 discharge at a wharf; "wharf the passengers"
4 come into or dock at a wharf; "the big ship wharfed in the evening" [syn: moor, berth]
5 moor at a wharf; "The ship was wharfed" [also: wharves (pl)]

Moby Thesaurus

anchorage, anchorage ground, basin, berth, breakwater, bulkhead, dock, dockage, dockyard, dry dock, embankment, groin, harbor, harborage, haven, jetty, jutty, landing, landing place, landing stage, levee, marina, mole, moorings, pier, port, protected anchorage, quay, road, roads, roadstead, seaport, seawall, shipyard, slip



Middle English < Old English hwearf ‘heap, embankment, wharf’; related to Old English hweorfan ‘to turn’, Old Saxon hwarf, Old High German hwarb ‘a turn’, hwerban ‘to turn’, Old Norse hvarf ‘circle’, Greek καρπός ‘wrist’.
The fact that wharves often have warehouses next to them for storing offloaded goods has led to the popular etymology that ‘wharf’ is an acronym of 'warehouse at river front'; however this is incorrect.



  1. A man-made landing place jutting out to sea or by a river; mole, pier, or quay



man-made landing place jutting out to water

See also

This page is about the waterfront structure. For other uses see wharf (disambiguation).
A wharf is a landing place or pier where ships may tie up and load or unload. A wharf is a fixed platform, commonly on pilings. They often serve as interim storage areas with warehouses, since the typical objective is to unload and reload vessels as quickly as possible. Where capacity is sufficient a single quay constructed along the land adjacent to the water is normally used; where there is a need for more capacity many wharfs will instead be constructed projecting into the water, as with the well known collection of wharfs in San Francisco. A pier, raised over the water rather than within it, is one type of wharf, commonly used for cases where the weight or volume of cargos will be low.
Smaller and more modern wharves are sometimes built on flotation devices (pontoons) to keep them at the same level to the ship even during changing tides.

Well-known wharves


The word comes from the Old English hwearf, meaning "bank" or "shore", and its plural is either wharfs, or, especially in American English, wharves; collectively a group of these is referred to as a wharfing or wharfage.
In the northeast and east of England the term staithe or staith (from the Norse for landing stage) is also used. For example Dunston Staiths in Gateshead and Brancaster Staithe in Norfolk. Though the term staithe may be used to refer only to loading chutes or ramps used for bulk commodities like coal in loading ships and barges.

See also

External links

wharf in German: Kai (Hafen)
wharf in Esperanto: Varfo
wharf in Persian: بندرگاه
wharf in French: Appontement
wharf in Indonesian: Dermaga
wharf in Dutch: Kade
wharf in Japanese: 埠頭
wharf in Norwegian: Brygge
wharf in Polish: Nabrzeże
wharf in Chinese: 碼頭
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