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2 definitions found
 for Wharf rat
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Wharf \Wharf\, n.; pl. Wharfsor Wharves. [AS. hwerf, hwearf,
     a returning, a change, from hweorfan to turn, turn about, go
     about; akin to D. werf a wharf, G. werft, Sw. varf a
     shipbuilder's yard, Dan. verft wharf, dockyard, G. werben to
     enlist, to engage, woo, OHG. werban to turn about, go about,
     be active or occupied, Icel. hverfa to turn, Goth.
     hwa['i]rban, hwarb[=o]n, to walk. Cf. Whirl.]
     [1913 Webster]
     1. A structure or platform of timber, masonry, iron, earth,
        or other material, built on the shore of a harbor, river,
        canal, or the like, and usually extending from the shore
        to deep water, so that vessels may lie close alongside to
        receive and discharge cargo, passengers, etc.; a quay; a
        pier.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              Commerce pushes its wharves into the sea.
                                                    --Bancroft.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              Out upon the wharfs they came,
              Knight and burgher, lord and dame.    --Tennyson.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: The plural of this word is generally written wharves in
           the United States, and wharfs in England; but many
           recent English writers use wharves.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     2. [AS. hwearf.] The bank of a river, or the shore of the
        sea. [Obs.] "The fat weed that roots itself in ease on
        Lethe wharf." --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Wharf boat, a kind of boat moored at the bank of a river,
        and used for a wharf, in places where the height of the
        water is so variable that a fixed wharf would be useless.
        [U. S.] --Bartlett.
  
     Wharf rat. (Zool.)
        (a) The common brown rat.
        (b) A neglected boy who lives around the wharfs. [Slang]
            [1913 Webster]
            [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  wharf rat
      n 1: someone who lives near wharves and lives by pilfering from
           ships or warehouses
      2: brown rat that infests wharves

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