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.
such a body of water having docks or port facilities.
any place of shelter or refuge: The old inn was a harbor for tired travelers.
verb (used with object)
to give shelter to; offer refuge to: They harbored the refugees who streamed across the borders.
to conceal; hide: to harbor fugitives.
to keep or hold in the mind; maintain; entertain: to harbor suspicion.
to house or contain.
to shelter (a vessel), as in a harbor.
verb (used without object)
(of a vessel) to take shelter in a harbor.
Also, especially British, harbour.

before 1150; Middle English herber(we), herberge, Old English herebeorg lodgings, quarters (here army + (ge)beorg refuge); cognate with German Herberge

harborer, noun
harborless, adjective
harborous, adjective
unharbored, adjective

dock, harbor, pier, wharf (see synonym study at the current entry).

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.
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World English Dictionary
harbour or harbor (ˈhɑːbə)
1.  a sheltered port
2.  a place of refuge or safety
3.  (tr) to give shelter to: to harbour a criminal
4.  (tr) to maintain secretly: to harbour a grudge
5.  to shelter (a vessel) in a harbour or (of a vessel) to seek shelter
[Old English herebeorg, from here troop, army + beorg shelter; related to Old High German heriberga hostelry, Old Norse herbergi]
harbor or harbor
[Old English herebeorg, from here troop, army + beorg shelter; related to Old High German heriberga hostelry, Old Norse herbergi]
'harbourer or harbor
'harborer or harbor
'harbourless or harbor
'harborless or harbor

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1150, from O.E. herebeorg, from here "army, host" (see harry) + beorg "refuge, shelter" (related to beorgan "save, preserve"); perhaps modeled on O.N. herbergi, from P.Gmc. *kharjaz + *berg-. Sense shifted in M.E. to "refuge, lodgings," then to "place of shelter for ships."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


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.
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Example sentences
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.
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