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1.The left side of the vessel or airplane when onboard facing the bow. It is so named because the rudder (steering oar) of early sailing vessels was located on the right side, making it impossible to dock the vessel with the right side facing the pier, so the left side had to face the pier and the port. Port was originally referred to as the "larboard" side, but that was confused with "starboard," so it was officially changed by order of the British Navy in 1844. See Starboard. 2.A harbor with piers or docks where vessels load and unload cargo or passengers. 3.A large opening in a vessel's side for handling cargo and passengers. Automobiles are often loaded this way.