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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Wharf \Wharf\, n.; pl. Wharfsor Wharves. [AS. hwerf, hwearf, a returning, a change, from hweorfan to turn, turn about, go about; akin to D. werf a wharf, G. werft, Sw. varf a shipbuilder's yard, Dan. verft wharf, dockyard, G. werben to enlist, to engage, woo, OHG. werban to turn about, go about, be active or occupied, Icel. hverfa to turn, Goth. hwa['i]rban, hwarb[=o]n, to walk. Cf. Whirl.] [1913 Webster] 1. A structure or platform of timber, masonry, iron, earth, or other material, built on the shore of a harbor, river, canal, or the like, and usually extending from the shore to deep water, so that vessels may lie close alongside to receive and discharge cargo, passengers, etc.; a quay; a pier. [1913 Webster] Commerce pushes its wharves into the sea. --Bancroft. [1913 Webster] Out upon the wharfs they came, Knight and burgher, lord and dame. --Tennyson. [1913 Webster] Note: The plural of this word is generally written wharves in the United States, and wharfs in England; but many recent English writers use wharves. [1913 Webster] 2. [AS. hwearf.] The bank of a river, or the shore of the sea. [Obs.] "The fat weed that roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf." --Shak. [1913 Webster] Wharf boat, a kind of boat moored at the bank of a river, and used for a wharf, in places where the height of the water is so variable that a fixed wharf would be useless. [U. S.] --Bartlett. Wharf rat. (Zool.) (a) The common brown rat. (b) A neglected boy who lives around the wharfs. [Slang] [1913 Webster] [1913 Webster]