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[hwawrvz, wawrvz] /ʰwɔrvz, wɔrvz/
a plural of wharf.


[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.


[hwawrv, wawrv] /ʰwɔrv, wɔrv/
Spinning. a wheel or round piece of wood on a spindle, serving as a flywheel or as a pulley.
before 1000; Middle English wherve, Old English hweorfa; derivative of hwerfan to revolve Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wharves
  • During the city's early years, this area attracted wholesalers who built warehouses near the wharves and railroad tracks.
  • The quays are a really a series of streets named for the wharves that once stood at the water's edge.
  • Pictures of it were made, with steamers lying at the wharves and a university in the suburbs.
  • Over the past decade the old downtown wharves have closed, one after another, and then been converted to tourist attractions.
  • Ships were carried up onto the shore and numerous wharves were damaged.
  • The local fishing industry that once busied its wharves died off after the war.
  • Across the river are factories, gas tanks and wharves.
  • wharves appear to have been regarded as common place by our predecessors and their construction as an ordinary occurrence.
  • At a political rally, the rats decide their only recourse is to raise money and buy the wharves from the humans.
  • Piers are not quays or wharves, but many originally were.
British Dictionary definitions for wharves


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


a wooden disc or wheel on a shaft serving as a flywheel or pulley
Word Origin
Old English hweorfa, from hweorfan to revolve; related to Old Saxon hwervo axis, Old High German hwerbo a turn
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 wharves



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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