follow Dictionary.com

Know these essential literary terms?

harbor

[hahr-ber] /ˈhɑr bər/
noun
1.
a part of a body of water along the shore deep enough for anchoring a ship and so situated with respect to coastal features, whether natural or artificial, as to provide protection from winds, waves, and currents.
2.
such a body of water having docks or port facilities.
3.
any place of shelter or refuge:
The old inn was a harbor for tired travelers.
verb (used with object)
4.
to give shelter to; offer refuge to:
They harbored the refugees who streamed across the borders.
5.
to conceal; hide:
to harbor fugitives.
6.
to keep or hold in the mind; maintain; entertain:
to harbor suspicion.
7.
to house or contain.
8.
to shelter (a vessel), as in a harbor.
verb (used without object)
9.
(of a vessel) to take shelter in a harbor.
Also, especially British, harbour.
Origin
1150
before 1150; Middle English herber(we), herberge, Old English herebeorg lodgings, quarters (here army + (ge)beorg refuge); cognate with German Herberge
Related forms
harborer, noun
harborless, adjective
harborous, adjective
unharbored, adjective
Can be confused
dock, harbor, pier, wharf (see synonym study at the current entry)
Synonyms
1. Harbor, haven, port indicate a shelter for ships. A harbor may be natural or artificially constructed or improved: a fine harbor on the eastern coast. A haven is usually a natural harbor that can be utilized by ships as a place of safety; the word is common in literary use: a haven in time of storm; a haven of refuge. A port is a harbor viewed especially in its commercial relations, though it is frequently applied in the meaning of harbor or haven also: a thriving port; any old port in a storm. 3. asylum, sanctuary, retreat. 4. protect, lodge. 6. See cherish.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for harbor
  • The temporary houses, first built over the water in the harbor, soon gave way to more solid structures.
  • The crazed fortune hunters who created this place left their ships to rot in the harbor on their way to the gold in the hills.
  • But there usually are reasons that people aren't there: no potable water, inclement weather, lack of a harbor for boats to dock.
  • On summer evenings when it is very hot, they sail to the farthest point of the harbor and drift while eating dinner.
  • The wrecked boat was hauled to the harbor early Thursday.
  • The wholesale and retail company extends on pilings over the harbor.
  • The city maintains many historical houses from the 18th century and has a lively harbor surrounded by restaurants and galleries.
  • The dolphin patrols the harbor, escorted by its handler.
  • Our oceans harbor nearly half of all life on the planet.
  • The answer will depend on your boat, the harbor, and your own likes or dislikes.
British Dictionary definitions for harbor

harbour

/ˈhɑːbə/
noun
1.
a sheltered port
2.
a place of refuge or safety
verb
3.
(transitive) to give shelter to: to harbour a criminal
4.
(transitive) to maintain secretly: to harbour a grudge
5.
to shelter (a vessel) in a harbour or (of a vessel) to seek shelter
Derived Forms
harbourer, (US) harborer, noun
harbourless, (US) harborless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English herebeorg, from here troop, army + beorg shelter; related to Old High German heriberga hostelry, Old Norse herbergi
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for harbor
n.

"lodging for ships," early 12c., probably from Old English herebeorg "lodgings, quarters," from here "army, host" (see harry) + beorg "refuge, shelter" (related to beorgan "save, preserve;" see bury); perhaps modeled on Old Norse herbergi "room, lodgings, quarters." Sense shifted in Middle English to "refuge, lodgings," then to "place of shelter for ships."

v.

Old English hereborgian, cognate with Old Norse herbergja, Old High German heribergon, Middle Dutch herbergen; see harbor (n.). Figuratively, of thoughts, etc., from late 14c. Related: Harbored; harboring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for harbor

any part of a body of water and the manmade structures surrounding it that sufficiently shelters a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, enabling safe anchorage or the discharge and loading of cargo and passengers

Learn more about harbor with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for harbor

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for harbor

11
11
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with harbor