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See more synonyms for harbour on Thesaurus.com
noun, verb (used with or without object) Chiefly British.
  1. harbor.
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Usage note

See -or1.


  1. 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.
  2. such a body of water having docks or port facilities.
  3. any place of shelter or refuge: The old inn was a harbor for tired travelers.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to give shelter to; offer refuge to: They harbored the refugees who streamed across the borders.
  2. to conceal; hide: to harbor fugitives.
  3. to keep or hold in the mind; maintain; entertain: to harbor suspicion.
  4. to house or contain.
  5. to shelter (a vessel), as in a harbor.
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verb (used without object)
  1. (of a vessel) to take shelter in a harbor.
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Also especially British, har·bour.

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 formshar·bor·er, nounhar·bor·less, adjectivehar·bor·ous, adjectiveun·har·bored, adjective
Can be confuseddock harbor pier wharf


See more synonyms for harbor on Thesaurus.com
3. asylum, sanctuary, retreat. 4. protect, lodge.

Synonym study

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. 6. See cherish.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for harbour

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Harbour improvements have occupied much of the attention of Government.

  • If you go towards the harbour, you'll most likely encounter your brother.

  • But he was too generous to harbour it for more than an instant.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Our vessels were moored about the harbour, and we were all frozen in, as a matter of course.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The day after I reached the harbour, I was ordered on board the Scourge.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for harbour


US harbor

  1. a sheltered port
  2. a place of refuge or safety
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  1. (tr) to give shelter toto harbour a criminal
  2. (tr) to maintain secretlyto harbour a grudge
  3. to shelter (a vessel) in a harbour or (of a vessel) to seek shelter
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Derived Formsharbourer or US harborer, nounharbourless or 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

Word Origin and History for harbour

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

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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.

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"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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper