Difference Between Dock and Pier

Key Difference – Dock vs Pier
 

The two terms dock and pier refer to important maritime structures. However, the meanings of these two terms tend to vary according to different regions. In American English, both pier and dock refer to a narrow and long structure that extends from the shore to the water. However, in British English dock refers to an enclosed area of water which is used to load, unload and repair ships. This is the key difference between dock and pier.

What is a Dock?

The term dock has many different meanings. In British English, dock is an enclosed area of water in a port used for loading, unloading, building or repairing of ships. A dock can be constructed by building enclosing harbor walls into an existing natural water space, or by excavation within what would otherwise be dry land. A dockyard is an area with docks and equipment for repairing and maintaining ships.

In American English,dock is synonymous with pier – a structure that goes out from a shore into the water (e.g., ferry dock, ore dock, swimming dock). However, some people are of the view that dock refers to the water adjacent to the pier.

Key Difference - Dock vs Pier

Boat dock at Pelee Island

What is a Pier?

A pier is a long, narrow structure that goes out from the shore into a river, lake, or the sea. It can be described as a platform on pillars projecting from the shore into the water. Piers are often made of wood and are supported by well-spaced pillars or piles. The open structure enabled by the pillars allows the current and tide does not disturb the flow of the current and tide.

Piers are built for several purposes; handling passengers and cargo is one of the main purposes of a pier. It can also act as a berth for small boats. Piers also accommodate fishing in the sea without the use of boats. As mentioned in the previous section, the term dock is used as a synonym for pier in American English.

Difference Between Dock and Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

What is the difference between Dock and Pier?

Meaning:

Dock can refer to

- An enclosed area of water in a port used for loading, unloading, building or repairing of ships

- A long, narrow structure that goes out from the shore into the water

- An area of water between or next to a manmade structure

Pier is a long, narrow structure that goes out from the shore into a river, lake, or the sea.

British English:

Dock refer to an enclosed area of water which is used to load, unload or repair ships.

Pier mainly refers to pleasure piers.

American English:

Dock and pier are synonymous although some people claim that pier refers to the water whereas dock refers to the water surrounding it.

Image Courtesy: 
“Pelee Island Boat Dock” By Amardeshbd (talk) – own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 
“Surfer at Huntington Beach Pier” By Mcclane2010 – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia