2. Naut. ‘Convenient sea-room for a ship that rides at anchor’ (Philips 1706); ‘sufficient space wherein a ship may swing round at the length of her moorings’ (Falconer).
1658 E. Phillips New World Eng. Words
, convenient room at Sea to moor a Ship in.
1692 Smith's Sea-mans Gram.
i. xvi. 75 A Birth
, a convenient space to moor a Ship in.
1721 N. Bailey Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict.
1769–89 W. Falconer Universal Dict. Marine
, a birth [expl. as above].
1781 Westm. Mag. 9
327 Perceiving neither the Isis nor Diana making any signs to follow, though both of them lay in clear births for so doing [cf. clear berth
1854 G. B. Richardson Univ. Code
(ed. 12) v. 423 You have given our ship a foul berth, or brought up in our hawse.
1858 in Mercantile Marine Mag. 5
226 The ship‥may‥choose her anchorage by giving either shore a berth of a couple of cables' length.
Thesaurus »3. Hence, ‘A convenient place to moor a ship in’ (Phillips); the place where a ship lies when at anchor or at a wharf.
1706 Phillips's New World of Words (ed. 6) , Birth and Berth [see above].
1731 N. Bailey Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict., Birth and Berth [as in Phillips].
a1754 H. Fielding Jrnl. Voy. Lisbon (1755) 211 Before we could come to our former place of anchoring, or birth, as the captain called it.
1793 J. Smeaton Narr. Edystone Lighthouse (ed. 2) §266 We let go an anchor and warped the buss to her proper birth.
1801 Ld. Nelson in Dispatches & Lett. (1845) IV. 366 That the squadron may be anchored in a good berth.
1879 E. J. Castle Law of Rating 75 Certain berths for the use of steamers.
Thesaurus »a. trans. To moor or place (a ship) in a suitable position. Also refl. of the ship or sailors.
1667 S. Pepys Diary 30 June (1974) VIII. 310 The Henery‥birthed himself so well, as no pilot could ever have done better.
1673 Camden Soc. Misc. (1881) 27 We‥anchored againe, and birth'd our selves in our anchoring posture agreed on.
1871 Daily News 30 June, There was no dry dock‥where the monster ship could be berthed and cleaned.