Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[kee, key, kwey] /ki, keɪ, kweɪ/
a landing place, especially one of solid masonry, constructed along the edge of a body of water; wharf.
Origin of quay
1690-1700; spelling variant (after French quai) of earlier kay (also key, whence the modern pronunciation) < Old French kay, cay; akin to Spanish cayo shoal. See key2
Related forms
quaylike, adjective
Can be confused
cay, key, quay.
pier, dock, landing, levee.


[kwey] /kweɪ/
Matthew Stanley, 1833–1904, U.S. politician: senator 1887–99, 1901–4. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for quay
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I saw the child myself on Sutton quay, ay, and spake with him, but I'd no notion that he meant to follow us on board.

    The Golden Galleon Robert Leighton
  • Nejdanov thought of the rope that is flung to the quay to make fast a ship.

    Virgin Soil Ivan S. Turgenev
  • Cleopatra comes from the palace and runs across the quay to Ftatateeta.

    Caesar and Cleopatra George Bernard Shaw
  • He essayed his credit with a person of the name of Dufour, on the quay, and was refused.

  • Three bluejackets were walking down the street to the quay, lurching over the pavement as they walked.

    An Australian Lassie Lilian Turner
  • A clanging bell and the noise of traffic on the quay recalled them to the moment.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • Finding that the second vessel lay moored to the quay, he sprang from it with all his might and alighted safely on the shore.

    Fighting the Flames R.M. Ballantyne
  • I there found Jack waiting for me, and we together walked down to the quay.

    The Fixed Period Anthony Trollope
  • At half past ten Timothy Sweeny left his shop and walked down to the quay.

    Priscilla's Spies George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for quay


a wharf, typically one built parallel to the shoreline Compare pier (sense 1)
Word Origin
C14 keye, from Old French kai, of Celtic origin; compare Cornish hedge, fence, Old Breton cai fence
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for quay

1690s, variant of Middle English key, keye, caye "wharf" (c.1300; mid-13c. in place names), from Old North French cai (Old French chai, 12c., Modern French quai) "sand bank," from Gaulish caium (5c.), from Old Celtic *kagio- "to encompass, enclose" (cf. Welsh cae "fence, hedge," Cornish ke "hedge"), from PIE *kagh- "to catch, seize; wickerwork, fence" (see hedge (n.)). Spelling altered in English by influence of French quai.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for quay

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for quay

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for quay