\ 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

Noun a comfortable cabin with a deep berth He has a starting berth on the all-star team. Verb The ship was berthed at this pier. The ship berthed at this pier.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Tigers then lost a rematch to the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game, tumbling out of the CFP field and settling for a Peach Bowl berth. Tom Green |, al, "Auburn’s focus is beyond playing role of spoiler for Georgia, Alabama’s playoff hopes," 13 Nov. 2019 What muddies the situation is the possibility of Oregon State qualifying for a bowl berth. oregonlive, "Oregon State receiver Trevon Bradford says plan remains to redshirt this season, return in 2020," 12 Nov. 2019 In its 51 -season existence, the franchise has made six playoff appearances, including one World Series berth in 1982 when the Brewers were in the American League. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "The Nationals won the World Series, and now there are only six MLB teams without one," 31 Oct. 2019 Trades like this are usually made by teams fighting for a playoff berth. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Kenyan Drake trade reaction: Questionable deal for Arizona Cardinals with Miami Dolphins?," 28 Oct. 2019 Adversity got in the way of Stevenson’s quest for a playoff berth this season, but the Patriots never let their string of injuries stop them from remaining positive. Steve Sadin,, "Stevenson powers through injuries but can’t clinch playoff berth," 26 Oct. 2019 The Dodgers are seeking a third straight World Series berth and their first title since 1988. Matt Martell,, "Dodgers vs. Nationals Is an Absolutely Loaded Series," 2 Oct. 2019 Returning to help lead the Bulldogs in the quest for a playoff berth is senior goalkeeper Sarkis Ter-Petrossian. Jeff Tully, Burbank Leader, "Boys’ Water Polo Preview: Burroughs, Burbank hope to makes waves in Pacific League," 2 Sep. 2019 The right fielder came up huge in the game that clinched the College World Series berth, going 3-for-3 with a home run and scoring five runs against South Carolina. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Royals draft pick Eric Cole helps push Arkansas to College World Series success," 20 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With the Cygnus spacecraft safely berthed, the station crew expects to welcome two more cargo ships in December, along with a Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule making an unpiloted test flight. William Harwood, CBS News, "Cargo ship reaches space station with cookie-baking oven and other gear," 4 Nov. 2019 Before dawn on December 21, 1919, the prisoners were roused from their bunks to be packed onto a barge and transported to a waiting vessel, the Buford, which was berthed in Brooklyn. Adam Hochschild, The New Yorker, "When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals," 4 Nov. 2019 They are all berthed directly beneath the flight path of the mighty Blue Angels, the final act in the weekend air show that traditionally draws tens of thousands of fans to viewing spots along the waterfront. Steve Rubenstein,, "Hundreds line up to visit Navy ships as part of Fleet Week festivities," 12 Oct. 2019 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

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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Statistics for berth

Last Updated

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for berth

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

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More Definitions for berth


How to pronounce berth (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for berth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

Comments on berth

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concealed or difficult to comprehend

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