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Berth

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He has tumbled into a nice berth. A nice situation or fortune. The place in which a ship is anchored is called its berth, and the sailors call it a good or bad berth as they think it favourable or otherwise. The space also allotted to a seaman for his hammock is called his berth. (Norman, berth, a cradle.)

To give a wide berth. Not to come near a person; to keep a person at a distance. The place where a ship lies in harbour is called her berth: hence, to give a “wide berth” is to give a ship plenty of room to swing at anchor.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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