give a wide berth to

berth

[burth]
noun
1.
a shelflike sleeping space, as on a ship, airplane, or railroad car.
2.
Nautical.
a.
the space allotted to a vessel at anchor or at a wharf.
b.
the distance maintained between a vessel and the shore, another vessel, or any object.
c.
the position or rank of a ship's officer.
d.
the cabin of a ship's officer.
3.
a job; position.
4.
a place, listing, or role: She clinched a berth on our tennis team.
verb (used with object)
5.
Nautical.
a.
to allot to (a vessel) a certain space at which to anchor or tie up.
b.
to bring to or install in a berth, anchorage, or moorage: The captain had to berth the ship without the aid of tugboats.
6.
to provide with a sleeping space, as on a train.
verb (used without object)
7.
Nautical. to come to a dock, anchorage, or moorage.
Idioms
8.
give a wide berth to, to shun; remain discreetly away from: Since his riding accident, he has given a wide berth to skittish horses.

Origin:
1615–25; probably bear1 + -th1

unberth, verb (used with object)

berth, birth.


4. spot, slot, position, post, niche, appointment.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
berth (bɜːθ)
 
n
1.  a bed or bunk in a vessel or train, usually narrow and fixed to a wall
2.  nautical a place assigned to a ship at a mooring
3.  nautical sufficient distance from the shore or from other ships or objects for a ship to manoeuvre
4.  give a wide berth to to keep clear of; avoid
5.  nautical accommodation on a ship
6.  informal a job, esp as a member of a ship's crew
 
vb
7.  (tr) nautical to assign a berth to (a vessel)
8.  nautical to dock (a vessel)
9.  (tr) to provide with a sleeping place, as on a vessel or train
10.  (intr) nautical to pick up a mooring in an anchorage
 
[C17: probably from bear1 + -th1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

berth
1620s, "convenient sea room" (both for ships and sailors), of uncertain origin, probably from bear (v.) + noun suffix -th as in strength, health, etc. Original sense is preserved in phrase to give (something or someone) wide berth. Meaning "place on
a ship to stow chests, room for sailors" is from 1706; extended to non-nautical situations 1778.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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