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This is a typical image of the structure in question:

the structure in question

There are also some variations, shown in this Google image search.

But I'm after the often not very wide, some 20-30 feet long wood construction a family builds (or hires someone to build...) for their summerhouse. For the kids to get out a bit so they can dive in the water or do some fishing, and to tie their small rowing-boat or motorboat to (not yacht). It's rarely the big, square deck with chairs to sit and look over the lake; usually no more than 5-6 feet wide; just for walking out to the boat or the front of it to jump in the water.

What I've come up with so far is landing-stage, but a Google Images search for this brings up big entertainment piers and some other things, so I'm unsure.

Purpose/context: This is for a translation into British English of a text concerning construction of decks, front steps, "landing-stages", gates and other objects using the same product: pressure-impregnated lumber.

I'm after the synonym that you think conjures up the image at the very top in the mind of British readers. It can be an accurate term or collective term; as long as it's distinct from "deck".

If not a construction term, at least a term for the construction, as opposed to "object for doing x".

I need to describe the construction/object itself, not a place or a generic word pertaining to function (without it ALSO meaning the concrete object itself). Using a term for the construction in which poles are driven into the lake bed is fine, although some float they have poles with rings to hold the construction in place horizontally.

Which one of pier, jetty, or landing(-stage) is most apt? Which of these can one person order deck planks, joists, and screws for, and build using normal tools and apply oil on with a paintbrush? This is what I'm after.

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Piers can be both small and big. Wiktionary has an entry which reads: "A raised platform built from the shore out over water, supported on piles; used to secure, or provide access to shipping; a jetty". –  coleopterist Jul 27 '12 at 7:41
    
Thanks. Updated the question with the context. Does "pier" fit the bill, in your opinion? –  Henrik Erlandsson Jul 27 '12 at 7:55
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A pier is usually tied to piles driven into the lake bed. Many small boat landings are often only on floats and anchored at the shore only. I like "dock" or "landing" as more generic terms. –  walrii Jul 27 '12 at 8:17
    
Added a clarification that I need to describe the construction/object itself, not a place or a generic word pertaining to function (without it ALSO meaning the object itself). Using a term for the construction in which poles are driven into the lake bed is fine, although some float they have poles with rings to hold the construction in place horizontally. –  Henrik Erlandsson Jul 27 '12 at 11:25
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Well, this is all very interesting. It never entered my head that there could be a transatlantic difference in the meaning of jetty and pier. –  Brian Hooper Jul 27 '12 at 19:59
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The word that you are looking for is pier. You can have long ones, short ones, large ones and small ones. Its dictionary definition reads like so:

  • A raised platform built from the shore out over water, supported on piles; used to secure, or provide access to shipping; a jetty.
  • A similar structure, especially at a seaside resort, used to provide entertainment.

An image search for kids jumping off them should bring up results which should confirm this. I believe that dock can also be used. But it is technically the area where a ship or boat is ... docked, rather than the structure itself which is a pier. There are similar distinctions for words such as jetty, wharf, and perhaps, even quay.

FWIW, Wikipedia also has articles for each of these structures.

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I agree with @Brian that a pier is a much bigger structure than the one in the pictures. –  KitFox Jul 27 '12 at 11:12
    
In a British dictionary I found two definitions: one for the large structure and one for the small structure. The second description seemed to fit so well that I went with this. –  Henrik Erlandsson Aug 3 '12 at 9:46
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I'd call this a jetty myself. Pier isn't wrong, but tends to imply a more magnificent structure than that shown.

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An image google of the two tells me the same, but I'm wary of interpreting too much from a google search... –  Henrik Erlandsson Jul 27 '12 at 10:10
    
From the dictionary link above - a jetty "projects into a body of water to influence the current or tide". It's a more substantial thing than the OP. –  Wudang Jul 27 '12 at 14:57
    
The image search doesn't distinguish between American English and British English, and that would be called a "dock" in American English, while a "pier" would be larger. So I don't think you can trust Google image search unless you can restrict it to .uk extensions. –  Peter Shor Jul 27 '12 at 15:39
    
I think jetty wins. Here is a google image search for "lake jetty" — it's just what you are looking for. And since Americans call these docks, it must be Brits that call them jetties. –  Peter Shor Jul 27 '12 at 19:02
    
@PeterShor In Wisconsin they are just piers, never jetties which would be unknown there. They become docks when they have boats tied to them, or can. –  tchrist Jul 27 '12 at 19:36
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In much of the U.S., the little wooden landing shown in your first picture is called a dock; see senses 1 and 3: "A fixed structure attached to shore to which a vessel is secured when in port"; "A structure attached to shore for loading and unloading vessels". Regarding your latter question, in the U.S. one person can easily "order deck planks, joists, and screws for, and build using normal tools and apply oil on with a paintbrush" a small dock, pier, landing, or landing-stage, but many people I know think of piers as larger structures, and of jetties as analogous to seawalls or breakwaters (also called groins, groynes, or moles).

Your google images link shows structures to which terms like dock, landing, marina, wharf, float, pier, quay, causeway, deck, platform, ramp, takeout, and ghat might apply. Among marina-structures providers in the U.S., the term dock probably is most common versus terms like dock, landing, slip, pier, wharf. See eg flotationdocking and norrislakemarinas.

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Unfortunately I overlooked the words "British English" in the title; much of my answer is related to American English rather than British English. –  jwpat7 Jul 27 '12 at 18:22
    
I am not so sure about the dock thing. In Wisconsin, you can have a pier that is not a dock. If you never tie boats up to it, it is just a pier. All docks are piers, I think, but not the other way around. –  tchrist Jul 27 '12 at 19:35
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In the U.S., New Jersey specifically, where they have a great many wave control structures to protect the beach, a "jetty" is a projecting body made of very large rocks. It is designed to tame the sea, not stand above it.

A "pier" is an elevated structure that allows the sea to flow unobstructed underneath. Usually one fishes from a pier.

A "dock" is an elevated way, with water underneath, specifically intended for tying up boats.

A "wharf" in Pittsburgh is a sort of river landing that was common in the 19th century, when shallow draft river boats were a leading form of inland transportation. The wharf is a paved, sloping bank that goes steadily down into the water. Boats would tie up to rings set in the wharf, and would put out catwalks from their decks onto the wharf. Longshoremen would carry cargo between deck and wharf on their backs or in wheelbarrows, and draymen would roll their wagons onto the wharf to make for the shortest distance to the boat. Today the wharf is used for parking automobiles, when the river is not too high.

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The picture provided looks a great deal like what I would call a dock.

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My in-laws are boat people. They looked and said "dock...or maybe wharf." But they aren't British, so maybe Brits call them something else. –  KitFox Jul 27 '12 at 11:11
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In the Midwest (U.S.), we would call the structure a dock (even if the body of water is too small to have boats on it, and thus a boat would never be docked at it). –  JLG Jul 27 '12 at 13:09
    
In BE a 'dock' implies something like a port. –  mgb Jul 27 '12 at 14:15
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@tchrist, We can argue, but everyone I know calls it a dock, even if it's on a farm pond. Piers are on the Great Lakes and the coasts. –  JLG Jul 27 '12 at 23:22
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@Malvolio: Beware! I've seen someone 'round here that might THWACK you for a comment like that. (I agree that in Am Eng the image is a dock, but that doesn't help the OP who asked for the Br Eng word.) –  TecBrat Aug 28 '12 at 1:24
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