AskDefine | Define berth

Dictionary Definition



1 a job in an organization; "he occupied a post in the treasury" [syn: position, post, office, spot, billet, place, situation]
2 a place where a craft can be made fast [syn: mooring, moorage, slip]
3 a bed on a ship or train; usually in tiers [syn: bunk, built in bed]


1 provide with a berth
2 secure in or as if in a berth or dock; "tie up the boat" [syn: moor, tie up]
3 come into or dock at a wharf; "the big ship wharfed in the evening" [syn: moor, wharf]

User Contributed Dictionary



bû(r)th, /bɜː(r)θ/, /b3:(r)T/



  1. A fixed bunk for sleeping in (caravans, trains, etc).
  2. Room for maneuvering or safety. (Often used in the phrase a wide berth.)
  3. A space for a ship to moor or a vehicle to park.
  4. A job or position, especially on a ship.
  5. Position or seed in a tournament bracket.


maneuvering room
space to moor
position on a ship
position in a tournament


  1. to bring (a ship or vehicle) into its berth
  2. to assign a berth (bunk or position) to


to bring a ship into berth

Extensive Definition

The term berth is used to describe a bed on a boat or train, or a location in a port or harbour used specifically for mooring vessels while not at sea (or as a verb to describe bringing a vessel alongside - to berth), or for describing playoff positions for teams with no initial competition in sports.

Locations in a Port

Berth is the term used in ports and harbours to define a specific location where a vessel may be berthed, usually for the purposes of loading and unloading.
Most berths will be alongside a quay or a jetty (large ports) or pontoons (small harbours and marinas). Berths are either general or specific to the types of vessel that use them. The size of the berths varies from 5-10m for a small boat in a marina to over 400m for the largest tankers.
The following is a list of berth types that you may find in a large port.
General Berth - used to handle smaller shipments of general cargo. Vessels using these would usually have their own lifting gear, but some ports will provide mobile cranes to do this.
Container Berth - used to handle 20' and 40' standard containers. Vessels are loaded and unloaded by container cranes, designed specifically for the task. Alongside the quay there is often a large flat area used to store both the imported and exported containers.
Bulk Berth - used to handle bulk cargo. Vessels are loaded using either excavators and conveyor belts or pipelines. Storage facilities for the bulk cargo are often alongside the berth - e.g. silos or stockpiles.
Product Berth - used to handle oil and gas related products, usually in liquid form. Vessels are loaded via loading arms containing the pipe lines. Storage facilities for the products are usually some distance away from the berth and connected by several pipes to ensure fast loading.
Marina Berth - used to allow the owners of leisure craft on and off their boats. Generally alongside pontoons and accessed by hinged bridges (in tidal locations) to the shore.

Beds in boats or ships

While beds on large ships are little different from those on shore, the lack of space on smaller yachts means that bunks must be fitted in wherever possible. Some of these berths have specific names:
Sometimes the settee forms part of a double bed for use in harbour, often using detachable pieces of the table and extra cushions. Such beds are not usually referred to as settee berths.
Unless the structure of the boat renders them unnecessary (quarter berths, pilot berths with partitions), bunks on a yacht must have lee-cloths to prevent the sleeper falling out due to the motion of the vessel. These are sheets of canvas attached to the open side of the bunk (very few are open all round) and usually tucked under the mattress during the day or when sleeping in harbour. Lengths of rope are attached to the upper corners of the lee-cloth, and fittings are provided above the bunk to which these lines can be tied, holding the cloth in place as a kind of wall across the open side of the bunk.
Lee cloths have some secondary uses:
  • If the cloth is fairly tall, it can serve as a kind of curtain to the berth, in an attempt either to provide privacy (something of a lost cause on board a small boat) or to avoid being awakened by the activities of those on watch.
  • Instead of tucking them under the mattress, some owners pull the lee-cloths across the top of the settee berths during rough weather, providing a protective cover for the fabric below and allowing the crew to sit down in wet oilskins without damaging it.
  • Pilot berths are sometimes used as storage on short trips with large crews. Each person's kit is kept in a large bag or holdall, and during the day all bags are placed in the pilot berths and tied down under the leecloths.

Beds in trains

Long-distance trains running at night sometimes have beds in them, often in sleeping compartments, and the beds are known as sleeping berths, or just berths. In the case of compartments with two berths, one is on top of the other in a double-bunk arrangement. These beds (the lower bed in a double-bunk arrangement) are usually designed in conjunction with seats which occupy the same space, and each can be folded away when the other is in use.
berth in Danish: Køje
berth in German: Koje
berth in Italian: Ancoraggio
berth in Japanese: 係留施設
berth in Norwegian: Kai (sjøfart)
berth in Polish: nabrzeże
berth in Swedish: Koj

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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