1. Sufficient space for a vessel to maneuver; sea room: kept a clear berth of the reefs.
2. A space for a vessel to dock or anchor: a steamship moored to its berth at the pier.
a. Employment on a vessel: sought an officer's berth in the merchant marine.
b. A job: a comfortable berth as head of the department.
a. A built-in bed or bunk, as on a ship or a train.
b. A place to sleep or stay; accommodations: found a berth in a nearby hotel.
5. A space where a vehicle can be parked, as for loading.
v. berthed, berth·ing, berths
1. To bring (a vessel) to a berth.
2. To provide with a berth.
To come to a berth; dock.
a wide berth
Ample space or distance to avoid an unwanted consequence: gave their angry colleague a wide berth.
[Middle English birth; perhaps akin to beren, to bear; see BEAR1.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.