\ ˈbərth How to pronounce berth (audio) \

Definition of berth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a nautical : sufficient distance for maneuvering a ship Keep a clear berth of the shoals.
b : an amount of distance maintained for safety give the fire a wide berth giving him a wide berth until he is in a better mood
2a : the place where a ship lies when at anchor or at a wharf was docked at her usual berth
b : a space for an automotive vehicle at rest a truck-loading berth
3 : a place to sit or sleep especially on a ship or vehicle : accommodation a comfortable cabin with a deep berth an upper berth
4a : a billet (see billet entry 1 sense 2a) on a ship waiting for a berth as a ship's surgeon— Bernard Keelan
b : job, position, place a starting berth on the team


berthed; berthing; berths

Definition of berth (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bring (something, such as a ship or automotive vehicle) into a berth The ship was berthed at this pier.
2 : to allot quarters or accommodations to : to allot a berth to a place to berth the crew

intransitive verb

: to come into a berth where the ship typically berths

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Examples of berth in a Sentence


a comfortable cabin with a deep berth He has a starting berth on the all-star team.


The ship was berthed at this pier. The ship berthed at this pier.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since 1995, the first postseason with the wild-card berth, 93 of the 144 eventual division champions (65%) held at least a share of the division lead at the All-Star break. Neil Greenberg, The Denver Post, "The NL Central is MLB’s only divisional race worth watching," 10 July 2019 The men’s basketball program won a national championship in its first season in the AAC but followed that up with a 91-78 mark over the next five seasons with just one NCAA Tournament berth in 2015. Matt Murschel,, "UConn trustees approve move to Big East, leaving AAC and UCF behind," 26 June 2019 Georgia was up two scores on Alabama in the SEC championship with a semifinal berth at stake. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Clemson Is the Only School That Actually Wants Alabama," 4 Jan. 2019 Red Sox runner-up could often bank on sliding into the playoffs with a wild-card berth, this year’s second-place finisher will have to compete in a one-game playoff with the other wild-card winner just to reach the American League Division Series. Alex Putterman, The Atlantic, "The Yankees–Red Sox Rivalry Is Back in Full Force," 28 June 2018 With a berth in the knockout stage of the World Cup on the line, Switzerland will take on Costa Rica Wednesday afternoon in their final match of Group E play. Ben Ladner,, "How to Watch Switzerland vs. Costa Rica: World Cup Live Stream, TV Channel," 27 June 2018 The Badgers ran the table in the regular season last year, winning 10 games by double digits, before falling short against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship with a College Football Playoff berth at stake. Jake Lourim, The Courier-Journal, "Ranking the 5 biggest games on Western Kentucky's 2018 football schedule," 20 June 2018 With a berth into Monday’s region section finals, 10 Harford County girls lacrosse teams battled Friday in three classifications. Randy Mcroberts, The Aegis, "Five girls lacrosse teams still alive in region play," 12 May 2018 Stan Van Gundy was fired Monday as president and head coach of the Detroit Pistons after four seasons with one playoff berth, a first-round sweep against Cleveland in 2016. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, "'Game of Zones' parodies Stan and Jeff Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons," 11 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The full-scape replica ship was built in England in the 1950s and has been berthed in Plymouth Harbor. USA TODAY, "‘Molly of Denali,’ saloon discourse, ashes by mail: News from around our 50 states," 10 July 2019 Other stations have berths for space tourists, but very few aggressively focus on ferrying the super rich to low-earth (LEO) orbit. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "A 10-Year Odyssey: What Space Stations Will Look Like in 2030," 10 June 2019 Toyota vehicles bound for shipment sit near a vehicle carrier ship berthed at the Nagoya Port in Tokai, Japan. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "Trade Friction Stymies Growth in Germany and Japan," 14 Feb. 2019 The group now known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula launched its first major attack on Americans in October 2000, when its operatives bombed the USS Cole while the destroyer was berthed in Yemen’s Aden harbor. Mike Pompeo, WSJ, "The U.S.-Saudi Partnership Is Vital," 27 Nov. 2018 The first Dragon berthed with the station in May of last year. Michael Belfiore, Popular Mechanics, "Orbital Sciences' Cygnus Berths with Space Station," 30 Sep. 2013 The intruders boarded the World War II-era vessel, which is berthed in a New Jersey river, and opened underwater hatches, flooding the sub. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "World War II-era submarine flooded by vandals in New Jersey," 16 Aug. 2018 In early November 2019, the ship will make its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to Miami where it will be berthed for Caribbean cruising. Phil Marty,, "Scaling the Swiss Alps on trains and trams, ranking road-trip friendly states and more," 27 June 2018 While many complain about how much baseball has changed lately, success stories are berthed out of those who adapt. Michael Beller,, "Eduardo Escobar Is the Latest Success Story of the Launch Angle Revolution," 13 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'berth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of berth


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1667, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for berth

Noun and Verb

Middle English birth, probably from beren to bear + -th

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Dictionary Entries near berth






bertha armyworm


Statistics for berth

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for berth

The first known use of berth was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for berth



English Language Learners Definition of berth

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a place to sleep on a ship, train, etc.
: a place in the water near the shore where a ship stops and stays
chiefly US : a place or position on a team



English Language Learners Definition of berth (Entry 2 of 2)

: to bring (a ship) into a place where it can stop and stay : to bring (a ship) into a berth


\ ˈbərth How to pronounce berth (audio) \

Kids Definition of berth

1 : a place in the water where a ship stops and stays when anchored or at a wharf
2 : a bed on a ship or train
3 : an amount of distance kept for the sake of safety We gave the haunted house a wide berth.

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More from Merriam-Webster on berth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with berth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for berth

Spanish Central: Translation of berth

Nglish: Translation of berth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of berth for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about berth

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