es·​tu·​ary | \ ˈes-chə-ˌwer-ē How to pronounce estuary (audio) , ˈesh- \
plural estuaries

Definition of estuary

: a water passage where the tide meets a river current especially : an arm of the sea at the lower end of a river

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Synonyms for estuary


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A partly enclosed coastal body of water in which river water is mixed with seawater is called an estuary. An estuary is thus defined by salinity rather than geography. Many coastal features designated by other names are in fact estuaries (for instance, Chesapeake Bay). Some of the oldest continuous civilizations have flourished in estuarine environments (for example, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Nile delta, and the Ganges delta). Cities such as London (Thames River), New York (Hudson River), and Montreal (St. Lawrence River) developed on estuaries and became important commercial centers.

Examples of estuary in a Sentence

the city sits on the shores of a deep estuary where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean
Recent Examples on the Web Head 40 minutes out of town to the barrier island Dauphin, at the head of the estuary, which is full of small cottages and cozy restaurants, and has some of the area’s finest beaches. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Weekend Getaway Ideas in the U.S.," 18 June 2020 Located in a hotspot of ecological diversity, a tidal estuary where the freshwater of the Hudson River mingles with the Atlantic Ocean, New York City was once marshy and laced with creeks and ponds. Willa Glickman, The New York Review of Books, "New York’s Rising Tides: Climate Inequality and Sandy’s Legacy," 19 Mar. 2020 At a time when there are few sturgeon in the estuary? oregonlive, "Bill Monroe: Oregon, Washington in standoff over sturgeon fishing in Columbia River estuary," 13 June 2020 Coast rivers/estuaries: Will be set later by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. oregonlive, "Bill Monroe: Complex set of sport salmon fishing seasons proposed," 18 Apr. 2020 The steep, narrow road curves to offer views of the Pacific Ocean and Klamath River estuary. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, "10 Scenic National Park Drives Everyone Should Do at Least Once," 12 Apr. 2020 The lack of fresh water flowing into the delta means more salty water from below can creep inland, hurting both farmers and the estuary. Peter Fimrite,, "Trump brings more water — and himself — to Central Valley farmers," 19 Feb. 2020 The rivers within the area of concern boundaries include the Milwaukee River, Menomonee River, Kinnickinnic River and the estuary. Ricardo Torres, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee's river systems targeted for restoration in agreement with federal, state and local agencies," 28 Jan. 2020 Against all advice, John—who is chiefly remembered for being forced to sign the Magna Carta, one of the cornerstones of civil liberty—took a shortcut via the Wash, a tidal estuary on England’s east coast. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Royal Treasures, Lost and Found," 23 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'estuary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of estuary

1538, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for estuary

Latin aestuarium, from aestus boiling, tide; akin to Latin aestas summer — more at edify

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Time Traveler for estuary

Time Traveler

The first known use of estuary was in 1538

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Statistics for estuary

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Estuary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for estuary


How to pronounce estuary (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of estuary

: an area where a river flows into the sea


es·​tu·​ary | \ ˈes-chə-ˌwer-ē How to pronounce estuary (audio) \
plural estuaries

Kids Definition of estuary

: an arm of the sea at the lower end of a river

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More from Merriam-Webster on estuary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for estuary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with estuary

Spanish Central: Translation of estuary

Nglish: Translation of estuary for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about estuary

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