Sailor Speak of the Week – Quay



  • A shore-side structure, usually masonry, and parallel to the shoreline that serves as a berth/berths for vessels.


14th century. From Middle English, key, of the same meaning. Also from the Breton word, kae, meaning an enclosure.


It’s pronounced key, like that piece of metal that opens a lock. Also called a wharf. The term “quay” seems to be more common in Europe, but the meaning is the same nonetheless.


Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.

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