\ ˈbərth \

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

Cy Ranch knocked off Cy-Fair for its third state berth in seven years. Jason Mcdaniel, Houston Chronicle, "High school notebook: Cypress Ranch places 3 players on THSBCA all-state team," 27 June 2018 Freeman has earned his second berth to the national show. Brett Hoffman, star-telegram, "Tolar's Freeman wins state in team roping; Weatherford's Berry wins break-away title," 24 June 2018 But without him, Sweden defeated Italy in a two-leg playoff last fall to earn its first World Cup berth in 12 years. Kevin Baxter,, "Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn't agree that Sweden's World Cup team is better off without him," 12 June 2018 The Cavaliers, who are shooting for their fourth straight Finals berth, existed all season in a culture of chaos. Joe Vardon,, "From thrown soup to broken legs, Cavaliers and Celtics survived and thrived in chaos to reach Eastern finals," 13 May 2018 After going 9-7 in 2016 and raising hopes of earning its first playoff berth since 2007, Tampa Bay stepped back to a 5-11 record in 2017. Mark Inabinett,, "Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing unresolved issues with quarterback Jameis Winston," 9 Apr. 2018 The Idaho Steelheads recently clinched their 21st consecutive postseason berth and home-ice advantage for the first round of the 2018 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Rachel Roberts, idahostatesman, "Boise Lego master re-creates Idaho Steelheads’ 2004 Kelly Cup Championship | Idaho Statesman," 29 Mar. 2018 Those Ramblers exceeded the expectations of practically everyone outside of Edgewater and Rogers Park this season, winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament to claim their first NCAA tournament berth in 33 years. Adam Lukach, RedEye Chicago, "Loyola's March Madness berth has people flocking to Rogers Park," 15 Mar. 2018 For decades, the Supreme Court has generally hewed to a legal doctrine giving agencies wide berth in interpreting federal statute, much to the chagrin of conservatives wishing to rein in government. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: How Brett Kavanaugh could rein in environmental rules on the Supreme Court," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Pennington, 52, was convicted April 26 on three misdemeanor counts of berthing his boat in the cove without a permit, off and on, between Sept. 26 and Feb. 9. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, "Rogue yachtsman in trouble again for alleged threats at Aquatic Park," 9 May 2018 Dry-berthing the ship will take about $40 million, but towing it away will cost about $30 million. Jennifer Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Games and guns help group raise funds for Battleship Texas post-Harvey," 9 Jan. 2018 The construction of a new cruise terminal with the capacity to berth an additional 5,000-passenger cruise ship represents thousands of jobs and increased opportunities for our community. Richard Tribou,, "Miami gives go-ahead for new Norwegian Cruise Line terminal," 13 Apr. 2018 Well, starting April 16, regular civilians will be able to tour the ship, which will be berthed at Portland Marine Terminal #2, at 3556 N.W. Front Ave. Lizzy Acker,, "Portland is about to welcome its namesake Navy ship," 10 Apr. 2018 Moustakas did close with a flourish, however, earning All-Star berths his final two full seasons and, from 2015-2017, posting an .824 OPS and 117 OPS-plus. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "A sampling of MLB players guaranteed more money than Mike Moustakas in 2018," 9 Mar. 2018 Previous aircraft carriers berthed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, including the USS Independence (CV 62), USS Ranger (CV 61) and USS Constellation (CV 64) were sent to Brownsville, Texas, for scrapping. USA TODAY, "Navy's decommissioned Kitty Hawk ship to be dismantled," 25 Oct. 2017

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


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


see berth entry 1

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Learn More about berth

Dictionary Entries near berth






bertha armyworm


Phrases Related to berth

give (someone or something) a wide berth

Statistics for berth

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: 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 \

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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Comments on berth

What made you want to look up berth? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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