• synonyms


[hwawrvz, wawrvz]
See more synonyms for wharves on Thesaurus.com
  1. a plural of wharf.
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[hwawrf, wawrf]
noun, plural wharves [hwawrvz, wawrvz] /ʰwɔrvz, wɔrvz/, wharfs.
  1. 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.
  2. Obsolete.
    1. a riverbank.
    2. the shore of the sea.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to provide with a wharf or wharves.
  2. to place or store on a wharf: The schedule allowed little time to wharf the cargo.
  3. to accommodate at or bring to a wharf: The new structure will wharf several vessels.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to tie up at a wharf; dock: The ship wharfed in the early morning.
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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 confuseddock harbor pier wharf


[hwawrv, wawrv]
  1. Spinning. a wheel or round piece of wood on a spindle, serving as a flywheel or as a pulley.
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Origin of wharve

before 1000; Middle English wherve, Old English hweorfa; derivative of hwerfan to revolve
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wharves

dock, berth, pier, jetty, levee, breakwater, quay, slip, landing

Examples from the Web for wharves

Historical Examples of wharves

  • And drawing lazily on his cigar Dillon was watching a new line of wharves.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • The cabman druv 'im to somewhere on South Street, by the wharves.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport

    Robert Neilson Stephens

  • Most of this is now a thing of the past and the dredges lie rotting at the wharves.

    The Negro Farmer

    Carl Kelsey

  • He had been down to the wharves since early in the morning, seeking for employment.

    The Cash Boy

    Horatio Alger Jr.

  • Think of the great wide flowing river with its wharves and its boats.

    Where We Live

    Emilie Van Beil Jacobs

British Dictionary definitions for wharves


noun plural wharves (wɔːvz) or wharfs
  1. 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
  2. the wharves NZ the working area of a dock
  3. an obsolete word for shore 1
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verb (tr)
  1. to moor or dock at a wharf
  2. to provide or equip with a wharf or wharves
  3. to store or unload on a wharf
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Word Origin for wharf

Old English hwearf heap; related to Old Saxon hwarf, Old High German hwarb a turn, Old Norse hvarf circle


  1. a wooden disc or wheel on a shaft serving as a flywheel or pulley
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Word Origin for wharve

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper