What does the phrase “to give a wide berth to” mean and How did it originate?

The word “berth” came into the language early in the seventeenth century from sources unknown.

It was a nautical term employed to mean roomway for a ship in which to operate.

The early phrase was “to give a good (or, a clear) berth to,” which meant, literally, to avoid, or to keep well away from, and we give it the same meaning today, though rarely with reference to a ship.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment