dock or pier? / jetty

  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    In my opinion, a pier is the larger structure. I would indeed call the object in your picture a dock. But docks are used for boats as well.


    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I would call it a jetty.

    Edit: I notice that the word reference dictionary has a rather different definition of jetty so I'm including the definition from OED online:


    noun (pl. jetties) 1 a landing stage or small pier. 2 a construction built out into the water to protect a harbour, riverbank, etc.
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    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Like liliput, I'd call it a jetty. But Wiki wouldn't agree with us :(

    Although the Wiki article concentrates more on larger sea-defence-type structures its basic definition doesn't exclude the item in the picture.

    Don't worry Loob, I agree with you and so do the OED and Cambridge. I have a feeling that there may be an another AE/BE difference here.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would call that a jetty if it had anything to do with boats.
    I might also call it a landing-stage.
    It's a bit puny to be called a pier or a dock.

    As it seems to be there as a swimming platform of some kind, I might call it a swimming platform.


    Senior Member
    Hmm, interesting - thanks. I would appreciate it if a couple AE speakers would chime in, too.


    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    When I was a kid living in Brooklyn, New York, USA, I frequented a "beach resort" called "Coney Island." Among other things, there were several structures which penetrated the water: one, a large, long and tall wooden structure, was called "the pier"; others, lower and made of rocks, were called "jetties." The purpose of the pier was to allow fishermen and sightseers access to deeper water. The jetties were ostensibly for protection of the beach from tidal erosion, although we played on them and harvested mussels therefrom. They had nothing to do with boats, and might have presented a danger to them. The words were not interchangeable.
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    Senior Member
    USA English
    I have a similar structure in my small lake. I call it a dock. Definitely not a "pier."

    Mine is supported by flotation devices I purchased on the Internet under the category "dock floats."

    I've never heard the term "landing-stage" in AE.

    Good luck


    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think there is an AE/BE difference.

    I would call that a dock - I can't tell from the photo if it's a floating dock or on pilings.
    It might be referred to as a landing if there was a boat there - you can't really have a landing without boats.
    I would particularly call that a dock if it is on a lake or a river and not on an ocean, bay, sound, or harbor.

    Jetty would more often be used to describe a solid structure, and to describe a large breakwater or "sea-defense-type thing."

    A pier would be larger and the platform is well above the surface of the water.
    It is large enough for a large boat or ship,
    there may be warehouses built on the pier,
    or an amusement park, like the Santa Monica Pier.


    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    <This discussion has been added to a previous thread on the same topic. Cagey, moderator >

    If there is a short boardwalk get out of beach into the sea where people are fishing on it, should I call it a 'dock' or 'pier'? Thank you!
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    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    If it is like what I imagine from your description, it is a pier.

    Do boats land there? If not, then I think it is not a dock.


    Senior Member
    B.E. via Australian English
    This is a pier from which you might fish:


    As Hildy says, a dock is more boat-related. A place where boats dock.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I would call it a jetty or perhaps a pier but in BE a pier is usually a far grander structure:


    A jetty:



    Senior Member
    US English
    In AE this can be called a jetty or a pier. But I think "jetty" is the best word for this type (fairly narrow, just wide enough for walkers). When I typed "jetty pictures" in google, all the pictures looked like this.

    When I typed "pier pictures" some looked like this, and some were much larger, like the first picture in post #4 above. "Pier" is used in AE for these larger structures, that have whole buildings on them. There are several famous ones in the US, including the Pier at the Atlantic City boardwalk.
    My form of AE (which is the same as that of cyberpedant) would never call that a jetty.

    The stone structure on which the surfer is standing is a jetty:

    Around here, jetties are solid structures of stone (although they could be concrete) that serve as barriers to the flow of water. The term "breakwater" is almost synonymous.

    These are piers on the North River (also known as the Hudson) in New York:

    This, to me, is a dock; it is too small to be a pier, and it is certainly not a jetty as I use that word: