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[hwawrf, wawrf] /ʰwɔrf, wɔrf/
noun, plural wharves
[hwawrvz, wawrvz] /ʰwɔrvz, wɔrvz/ (Show IPA),
a structure built on the shore of or projecting into a harbor, stream, etc., so that vessels may be moored alongside to load or unload or to lie at rest; quay; pier.
  1. a riverbank.
  2. the shore of the sea.
verb (used with object)
to provide with a wharf or wharves.
to place or store on a wharf:
The schedule allowed little time to wharf the cargo.
to accommodate at or bring to a wharf:
The new structure will wharf several vessels.
verb (used without object)
to tie up at a wharf; dock:
The ship wharfed in the early morning.
Origin of wharf
before 1050; Middle English (noun); Old English hwearf embankment; cognate with Middle Low German warf; akin to German Werf pier
Can be confused
dock, harbor, pier, wharf. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wharf
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Looks as if there were something doing there," said Percival, as they drove off the wharf.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • There was no wharf, and it was always necessary to get ashore through a surf.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • We all went ashore in this canoe, then, and were soon alongside of a wharf.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • When we got back to Charleston, our ship lay at her own wharf, and I saw nothing of my chap.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Two of them bore a small chest which they set down on the wharf.

    Poisoned Air Sterner St. Paul Meek
  • The wharf is naturally the first point of interest to new-comers.

    Brighter Britain! (Volume 1 of 2) William Delisle Hay
  • Down the wharf he walked, joyfully, as one who greets an old friend.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards Joseph C. Lincoln
  • He was followed by the wharf watchman, who looked frightened.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for wharf


noun (pl) wharves (wɔːvz), wharfs
a platform of timber, stone, concrete, etc, built parallel to the waterfront at a harbour or navigable river for the docking, loading, and unloading of ships
(NZ) the wharves, the working area of a dock
an obsolete word for shore1
verb (transitive)
to moor or dock at a wharf
to provide or equip with a wharf or wharves
to store or unload on a wharf
Word Origin
Old English hwearf heap; related to Old Saxon hwarf, Old High German hwarb a turn, Old Norse hvarf circle
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 wharf

late Old English hwearf "shore, bank where ships can tie up," earlier "dam, embankment," from Proto-Germanic *khwarfaz (cf. Middle Low German werf "mole, dam, wharf," German Werft "shipyard, dockyard"); related to Old English hwearfian "to turn," perhaps in a sense implying "busy activity," from PIE root *kwerp- "to turn, revolve" (cf. Old Norse hverfa "to turn round," German werben "to enlist, solicit, court, woo," Gothic hvairban "to wander," Greek kartos "wrist," Sanskrit surpam "winnowing fan"). Wharf rat "person who hangs around docks" is recorded from 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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