freeboard

[free-bawrd, -bohrd]
noun
1.
Nautical.
a.
the distance between the level of the water and the upper surface of the freeboard deck amidships at the side of a hull: regulated by the agencies of various countries according to the construction of the hull, the type of cargo carried, the area of the world in which it sails, the type of water, and the season of the year. Compare load line.
b.
(on a cargo vessel) the distance between the uppermost deck considered fully watertight and the official load line.
c.
the portion of the side of a hull that is above the water.
2.
Civil Engineering. the height of the watertight portion of a building or other construction above a given level of water in a river, lake, etc.

Origin:
1670–80; free + board; translation of French franc bord

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
freeboard (ˈfriːˌbɔːd)
 
n
the space or distance between the deck of a vessel and the waterline

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
When measuring a freeboard ratio, the numerator is the height of the freeboard
  area.
Freeboard level in these designs is usually controlled by a valve on the pipe.
Freeboard is the vertical distance from the water surface to the top of the dam.
Freeboard safety factors are common in the design of flood control projects and
  floodplain development.
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