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[hahr-ber] /ˈhɑr bər/
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.
Origin of harbor
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)
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for harboring
  • The trunk of trees harboring bee hives were specially marked to indicate ownership.
  • In fact, you are labeled a pessimist for harboring such negative thoughts.
  • The idea here is to open a new sports franchise in a small town or city not already harboring a big-league team.
  • The possibility of her hens' harboring the salmonella bacteria was an unknown concept.
  • The team then administered a single dose of the treatment to mice harboring implanted brain tumors.
  • Once their tumors have shrunk, patients harboring the implant could be monitored for signs that the cancer has come back.
  • Eventually arrested for harboring students who were also planning to flee, she was sentenced to four years in prison.
  • Now water tables plummet in countries harboring half the world's population.
  • Rural peasants aren't the only ones harboring doubts.
  • We are a restless species, harboring an impulse to move that is a key to our success and our dominion over the planet.
Word Origin and History for harboring



"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."


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
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