\ˈhwȯrf, ˈwȯrf\
plural wharves\ ˈhwȯrvz , ˈwȯrvz \ also wharfs

Definition of wharf 

1 : a structure built along or at an angle from the shore of navigable waters so that ships may lie alongside to receive and discharge cargo and passengers

2 obsolete : the bank of a river or the shore of the sea

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Synonyms for wharf


dock, float, jetty, landing, levee, pier, quay

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Examples of wharf in a Sentence

tied the rowboat up at the wharf

Recent Examples on the Web

Jackson said the full extent of the damage to the wharf is still being assessed, but said the crash left a few pilings cracked. Marie Simoneaux, NOLA.com, "Tugboat catches fire in Mississippi River near Poland Avenue Wharf," 7 May 2018 The terms are more restrictive than the loan provided by Japan for a similar wharf. Ben Bohane, New York Times, "South Pacific Nation Shrugs Off Worries on China’s Influence," 13 June 2018 The breakwater of the wharf is fascinating with huge granite obelisks bent by storms lining the granite rocks like seaside grave stones. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "A Visit To Stonington's Seashore And Preserve Where Expansive Views And Connecticut History Are Showcased," 6 July 2018 The line ran from Providence to the steamboat wharf in Stonington in 1832. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "A Visit To Stonington's Seashore And Preserve Where Expansive Views And Connecticut History Are Showcased," 6 July 2018 It was taken by a majority-white council that meets in a City Hall built by slaves and was less than a mile (1.5 kilometers) from the old wharf where slave ships unloaded. Time, "'It Was Wrong.' Charleston Apologizes for Slavery in City Council Resolution," 20 June 2018 They were used at the waterfront, along with bulkhead wharves, to contain soil and turn the original cove called Point Lumley into land that supported warehouses, mills and other commercial buildings. Patricia Sullivan, Washington Post, "Three ships from the 1700s found on one block in Old Town Alexandria," 12 Apr. 2018 The men, according to Holohan were violating the order that forbids the presence of enemy aliens near docks and wharves. Johnny Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, "Black Panther Bobby Seale speaks at S.F. State," 28 Feb. 2018 The ferry to Manitou departs from Fishtown, the aromatic working wharf that is part of Leland. Joanne Cleaver, chicagotribune.com, "Door County vs. Leelanau: Which Midwest peninsula is tops? (Hint: Depends on the category.)," 25 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wharf.' 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 wharf

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wharf

Middle English, from Old English hwearf embankment, wharf; akin to Old English hweorfan to turn, Old High German hwerban, Greek karpos wrist

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Dictionary Entries near wharf






wharf boat

wharf borer

Statistics for wharf

Last Updated

8 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for wharf

The first known use of wharf was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of wharf

: a flat structure that is built along the shore of a river, ocean, etc., so that ships can load and unload cargo or passengers


\ˈhwȯrf, ˈwȯrf\
plural wharves\ ˈhwȯrvz, ˈwȯrvz \ also wharfs

Kids Definition of wharf

: a structure built on the shore for loading and unloading ships

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More from Merriam-Webster on wharf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wharf

Spanish Central: Translation of wharf

Nglish: Translation of wharf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wharf

Comments on wharf

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


obstinately defiant of authority

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