AskDefine | Define wherry

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wherry \Wher"ry\, n.; pl. Wherries. [Cf. Icel. hverfr shifty, crank, hverfa to turn, E. whirl, wharf.] (Naut.) (a) A passenger barge or lighter plying on rivers; also, a kind of light, half-decked vessel used in fishing. [Eng.] (b) A long, narrow, light boat, sharp at both ends, for fast rowing or sailing; esp., a racing boat rowed by one person with sculls. [1913 Webster]
Wherry \Wher"ry\, n. [Cf. W. chwerw bitter.] A liquor made from the pulp of crab apples after the verjuice is expressed; -- sometimes called crab wherry. [Prov. Eng.] --Halliwell. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 sailing barge used especially in East Anglia [syn: Norfolk wherry]
2 light rowboat for use in racing or for transporting goods and passengers in inland waters and harbors



  1. A light embarcation used to navigate inland waterways.
  2. A flat-bottomed vessel previously employed by British merchants, notably in East Anglia. Some of these have now been converted into pleasure boats.


  • 1789, Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
    Here I used to enjoy myself in playing about the bridge stairs, and often in the watermen's wherries, with other boys. On one of these occasions there was another boy with me in a wherry, and we went out into the current of the river: while we were there two more stout boys came to us in another wherry, and, abusing us for taking the boat, desired me to get into the other wherry-boat. Accordingly I went to get out of the wherry I was in; but just as I had got one of my feet into the other boat the boys shoved it off, so that I fell into the Thames; and, not being able to swim, I should unavoidably have been drowned, but for the assistance of some watermen who providentially came to my relief.
  • 1928, Virginia Woolf, Orlando
    The river was astir early and late with barges, wherries, and craft of every description.

See also

A wherry (meaning "boat") is a boat used for carrying cargo on rivers and canals in England. Wherries evolved into a gentleman's rowing boat. They are generally long and narrow, with a straight stem, a wineglass stern and usually carvel planked (smooth sides). The boat usually has two seats, one for the rower, and one in the stern sheets for the passenger, although longer ones can have a third seat forward. Modern longer craft are often set up to be rowed with a sliding seat as either a single or a double.


The original wherries along the Thames were water taxis. In the Elizabethan era, prior to Admiral Anson and the rise of the Royal Navy, and before landing stages were built along the river, the wherries were built with long overhanging bows so that patrons could step ashore dryshod. Once landing stages were built along the river, their bows took on the proportions still seen today.
In the time of Shakespeare, their use was widespread. One account concerning Shakespeare's Globe Theatre said, "Patrons were transported across the River Thames to Southwark by 'wherry boats.' At one time over two thousand wherries made their way to and from the theater district." The term wherry or wherrie, and presumably knowledge of them, had become so much a part of the culture at the time that the Coverdale Bible of 1535 speaks of "All whirry men, and all maryners vpo the see…" in the Book of Ezekiel.
In North America, particularly in the Penobscot Bay region of the Gulf of Maine, wherries became the preferred boat for the longshore Atlantic salmon fishery. The Lincolnville Salmon Wherry, the Rhodes Wherry, the Duck Trap Wherry, and the Christmas Wherry are still being built for recreational use.


People in Ireland with the name Wherry, may be related to the Wherrys of England, but there is another possibility. The name Wherry is an Anglicization of the Irish name o'eHeighir, the o'eH being aspirated and indeed, the name O'Hare, is another Anglicization of the root name o'eHeighir. The name originates from County Down.

See also

External links

  • Wherries by Walter J. Simmons, published in 2004.
wherry in French: Bachot
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