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fresh·​wa·​ter ˈfresh-ˈwȯ-tər How to pronounce freshwater (audio)
: consisting of or containing fresh water
freshwater marshes
freshwater aquariums
compare saltwater
: living in or taken from fresh water
freshwater mussels/fish
freshwater pearls
: relating to or taking place in fresh water
freshwater diving/sailing
US, dated : inland and usually provincial
a freshwater college

fresh water

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or less commonly freshwater
: water that is not salty
… the lake holds the largest volume of fresh water in the world, 5,000 cubic miles.Philip Taubman
also : water that is considered suitable for consumption
He saw many islands, but they were flat or rocky or they lacked fresh water or their anchorage was too shallow. John Taylor
: a body of fresh water
The hydrosphere includes oceans, fresh water, glaciers, and ice caps.Leigh Broadhurst
compare salt water

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
But just 17 per cent of the regions that separate marine and freshwater fish map to actual genes. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2012 Quagga and Zebra Mussels are quickly becoming America’s most troublesome freshwater invasive species. Jeff Wheelwright, Discover Magazine, 24 June 2012 The National Hurricane Center is calling for 12 to 18 inches of rainfall, with locally higher amounts possible - more than enough to cause widespread urban and freshwater flooding. Zach Rosenthal,, 27 Sep. 2022 Research shows that a saltwater ballast flush can go a long way in killing most freshwater tank dwellers., 2 Sep. 2021 These include freshwater inflow from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, melting sea-ice, increasing precipitation and river run-off. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 5 Aug. 2021 Luxury Airstreams in a hilly setting surrounding a freshwater pond. Washington Post, 2 July 2021 Lake sturgeon are freshwater fish that live in North America, from the Hudson Bay through the Mississippi River drainages. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, 7 May 2021 Ghost forests are landscapes that form when saltwater begins to flood woodland areas that contain freshwater-dependent trees. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Mar. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of freshwater was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near freshwater



fresh water

Cite this Entry

“Freshwater.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


: of, relating to, or living in fresh water
a freshwater fish
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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