Difference Between A Dock And A Pier

The words “dock” and “pier” are often used interchangeably, but the two terms are quite different in meanings. 

A dock is an area of land where ships can be moored for loading and unloading goods. A pier is a construction that goes out into the water to provide access to boats at a dock or harbor. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the difference between dock And pier so that you don’t have to wonder “Is that a dock or a pier?”

What is a Dock?

Docks are structures that allow boats to be tied up. A dock is an area of water that includes a harbor surrounded by walls or docks.

These areas are designed to load and unload ships, construct new boats from scratch (or repair them), maintain the current fleet as they enter the port for maintenance work, all without having to go into the open sea.

The word “dock” comes from Middle English “Docke” which means “a place where things are stored,”

They can either be floating or fixed and are usually close to water. Most docks are fixed, so they’re anchored into the ground with posts.

Most floating docks are made from wood, but they can also be made from steel or concrete. In rough weather, docks can provide some protection from waves.

They offer a sheltered area where ships can tie up while still being close enough. That way, you can board them without having to swim out in the open ocean.


What is a Pier?

A pier is a structure that extends out from the shore. Piers may serve as wharves providing berths, moorings, and boat slips for vessels.

A pier may also provide sunbathing or fishing opportunities, or serve as a public walkway offering views of the water. The word “pier” comes from Latin “pira” meaning “firewood,”


The traditional type of pier was built with wood, but today they are generally made from reinforced concrete with steel rods to be stronger and able to bear more loads.

So you can build permanent structures in shallow places like river banks and lakes where there’s not enough depth for traditional construction methods.

Almost all beaches have piers with shopping and entertainment options, so locals and tourists can have fun all year round!

Difference Between Dock And Pier

  • In British English : Docks are enclosed areas of water that are used to load, unload, or repair ships. Piers are more often referred to as docks that are used for entertainment purposes.
  • In American English : Docks and piers are synonyms, although some people think Piers have something to do with water. The dock, on the other hand, refers to the water surrounding it.

Again, Dock and Pier aren’t the same


  • A platform that extends into the water and may or may not have steps leading to it.
  • Docks are often used for loading and unloading cargo from ships.
  • In most cases, docks are made of wooden planks. 


  • A pier is usually built on land but has an area in the water where boats can tie up.
  • Piers are typically used for recreational purposes, like fishing.
  • Piers are available in wood, metal, concrete, or other materials, depending on their purpose.