: a structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place

Examples of quay in a Sentence

docked the ferry at the quay to let the passengers off
Recent Examples on the Web On weekends—the restaurant weekend is Sunday and Monday—Eugénie runs, and meets a boxing instructor to hook and jab on the quays of the Seine. Jo Rodgers, Vogue, 14 Nov. 2023 Beyond the multicolored shops, red brick streets packed with performers, and quays filled with sailboats that draw visitors to the town of Kinsale in County Cork, Ireland, is a memorial to a tragedy that occurred an ocean away. Claire Fahy, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Sep. 2023 Similar scenes play out along local quays and public parks. Youcef Bounab, Chicago Tribune, 23 July 2023 Reflection on the quays of Sète, original silver print, 1950. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 14 July 2023 Moreover, satellite pictures of a port on North Korea’s east coast showed movement near the port’s submarine-launch quay, indicating the regime could soon roll out a new missile-launching submarine, according to an analysis by 38 North, a website focusing on North Korea. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, 1 Apr. 2021 Katendrecht, a former red light district on a quay in the city center, has a great array of options, from gourmet burgers to the best tacos this side of the Atlantic. Joe Minihane, CNN, 8 Nov. 2022 Within days thousands of people were stuck on the quay, seeking a way out. Lisa Morrow, CNN, 4 Oct. 2022 Even with a quay filled with all kinds of new dayboats from the world’s top builders, the the 40’s exterior aesthetics just popped. Kevin Koenig, Robb Report, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'quay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English keye, kaye, borrowed from Anglo-French kay, caye, keye, corresponding to Middle French (Picardy) kay, going back to Gaulish *kagi̯o- (late Gaulish caio) "enclosure," going back to Celtic — more at haw entry 1

Note: The spelling quay, first appearing in the sixteenth century, follows modern French. As noted by the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition, the expected outcome of Middle English keye would be /keɪ/ in Modern English. — The form caio, glossed "breialo sive bigardio" (meaning perhaps "demarcated field or wood"), is found in Endlicher's Glossary, a collection of words dated in its earliest version to the eighth century that were taken by the glossator to be of Gaulish origin (and hence entitled "De nominibus Gallicis"). Compare also cai, glossed cancelli "latticed barrier" in Late Latin texts (see Thesaurus linguae Latinae s.v.). In Normandy and Picardy, from where kay spread to France generally, the original reference was perhaps to a barrier demarcating part of a seashore or river bank that was built up with stone or earth to make a loading area for boats. The corresponding word in Poitou was chai.

First Known Use

1561, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of quay was in 1561

Dictionary Entries Near quay

Cite this Entry

“Quay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quay. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a structure built along the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place

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