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[hahr-ber] /ˈhɑr bər/
noun, verb (used with or without object), Chiefly British.
Usage note
See -or1.


[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 harbouring
Historical Examples
  • Now as I am called Lawman of this country, it would not be seemly for me to break the law by harbouring outlaws.

  • No doubt it is to make us all afraid of harbouring fugitives.

    Two Daring Young Patriots W. P. Shervill
  • Instead of having the comfort of being at some distance from a regiment, they would have all the disadvantages of harbouring one.

    The Grandee Armando Palacio Valds
  • My father was well aware of the danger he ran in harbouring Dio.

    With Axe and Rifle W.H.G. Kingston
  • The White Knoll had long had the repute of harbouring fairies; Sarah's experiences put the matter beyond all doubt.

  • He sentenced the lady Lesly for harbouring a stranger one night.

  • He grew angry with himself for harbouring a thought into which a tinge of admiration for her entered.

    Wolf Breed Jackson Gregory
  • This comes of harbouring a strange Phrygian in an honest household.

    Darkness and Dawn Frederic W. Farrar
  • He didn't really intend to do me an injury, and feels sorry because of harbouring such revengeful thoughts.

  • The floor could be acquitted, on sight, of harbouring the quarry.

    Mike P. G. Wodehouse
British Dictionary definitions for harbouring


a sheltered port
a place of refuge or safety
(transitive) to give shelter to: to harbour a criminal
(transitive) to maintain secretly: to harbour a grudge
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
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Word Origin and History for harbouring


chiefly British English spelling of harbor (n. and v.); for spelling, see -or.



"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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