How do you pronounce quay? And what does it mean, anyway?

Quay is a word with many possible pronunciations, depending on speaking habits in a particular region. Whether it sounds like key, kay, or kway, quay refers to a dock in a body of water.

James Joyce referred to a wharf several times in his novel Dubliners. Here's one example:

Nearly every day when his teaching in the college was ended he used to wander down the quays to the second-hand booksellers, to Hickey's on Bachelor's Walk, to Web's or Massey's on Aston's Quay . . .

Charles Dickens talked of a landing place along the Seine (pronounced like "sane") River in A Tale of Two Cities:

"One cloudy moonlight night, in the third week of December (I think the twenty-second of the month) in the year 1757, I was walking on a retired part of the quay by the Seine for the refreshment of the frosty air. . .

And in Dracula, Bram Stoker wrote,

The band on the pier is playing a harsh waltz in good time, and further along the quay there is a Salvation Army meeting in a back street.