- a shelflike sleeping space, as on a ship, airplane, or railroad car.
- the space allotted to a vessel at anchor or at a wharf.
- the distance maintained between a vessel and the shore, another vessel, or any object.
- the position or rank of a ship’s officer.
- the cabin of a ship’s officer.
- a job; position.
- a place, listing, or role: She clinched a berth on our tennis team.
verb (used with object)
- to allot to (a vessel) a certain space at which to anchor or tie up.
- to bring to or install in a berth, anchorage, or moorage: The captain had to berth the ship without the aid of tugboats.
- to provide with a sleeping space, as on a train.
verb (used without object)
- Nautical. to come to a dock, anchorage, or moorage.
- give a wide berth to, to shun; remain discreetly away from: Since his riding accident, he has given a wide berth to skittish horses.
- a bed or bunk in a vessel or train, usually narrow and fixed to a wall
- nautical a place assigned to a ship at a mooring
- nautical sufficient distance from the shore or from other ships or objects for a ship to manoeuvre
- give a wide berth to to keep clear of; avoid
- nautical accommodation on a ship
- informal a job, esp as a member of a ship’s crew
- (tr) nautical to assign a berth to (a vessel)
- nautical to dock (a vessel)
- (tr) to provide with a sleeping place, as on a vessel or train
- (intr) nautical to pick up a mooring in an anchorage
1620s, “convenient sea room” (both for ships and sailors), of uncertain origin, probably from bear (v.) + abstract noun suffix -th (2) 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 by 1778.
1660s, of ships, from berth (n.). Of persons (intransitive), from 1886. Related: Berthed; berthing.
see give a wide berth to.