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The harbour (sheltered area for ships) of Bonifacio, Corsica.

Alternative forms[edit]



From Middle English herber, herberge, from Old English herebeorg ‎(shelter, lodgings, quarters), from Proto-Germanic *harjabergō ‎(army shelter, refuge) (compare West Frisian herberch ‎(inn), Dutch herberg ‎(inn), German Herberge), from *harjaz ‎(army) + *bergō ‎(protection), equivalent to Old English here ‎(army, host) + beorg ‎(defense, protection, refuge). Cognate with Old Norse herbergi ‎(a harbour; a room) (whence the Icelandic herbergi), Dutch herberg, German Herberge ‎(hospice), Swedish härbärge. Compare also French auberge ‎(hostel). More at here, harry, borrow and bury.


harbor ‎(plural harbors)

  1. (obsolete, uncountable) Shelter, refuge.
  2. Any place of shelter.
    The neighborhood is a well-known harbor for petty thieves.

is this attested in modern English?:

  1. (obsolete) A house of the zodiac, or the mansion of a heavenly body.
    • Late 14th century: To ech of hem his tyme and his seson, / As thyn herberwe chaungeth lowe or heighe — Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Franklin’s Tale’, Canterbury Tales
  2. A sheltered expanse of water, adjacent to land, in which ships may dock or anchor, especially for loading and unloading.
    A harbor, even if it is a little harbor, is a good thing, since adventurers come into it as well as go out, and the life in it grows strong, because it takes something from the world, and has something to give in return - Sarah Orne Jewett
  3. A mixing box for materials in glass-working.

Derived terms[edit]



harbor ‎(third-person singular simple present harbors, present participle harboring, simple past and past participle harbored)

  1. (transitive) To provide a harbor or safe place for.
    • 2013 May-June, Katie L. Burke, “In the News”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 193:
      Bats host many high-profile viruses that can infect humans, including severe acute respiratory syndrome and Ebola. A recent study explored the ecological variables that may contribute to bats’ propensity to harbor such zoonotic diseases by comparing them with another order of common reservoir hosts: rodents.
    The docks, which once harbored tall ships, now harbor only petty thieves.
  2. (intransitive) To take refuge or shelter in a protected expanse of water.
    The fleet harbored in the south.
  3. (transitive) To hold or persistently entertain in one's thoughts or mind.
    She harbors a conviction that her husband has a secret, criminal past.


See also[edit]


  • harbor in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • harbor” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • harbor” in Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition (2007)
  • harbor” in the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.