fresh·​wa·​ter | \ ˈfresh-ˈwȯ-tər How to pronounce freshwater (audio) , -ˈwä- \

Definition of freshwater

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : consisting of or containing fresh water freshwater marshes freshwater aquariums — compare saltwater
b : living in or taken from fresh water freshwater mussels/fish freshwater pearls
c : relating to or taking place in fresh water freshwater diving/sailing
2 US, dated : inland and usually provincial a freshwater college

fresh water

or less commonly freshwater

Definition of fresh water (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : 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
2 : a body of fresh water The hydrosphere includes oceans, fresh water, glaciers, and ice caps.— Leigh Broadhurst — compare salt water

Examples of freshwater in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But for fish and other marine and freshwater wildlife, studies find that microplastics disrupt reproductive systems, stunt growth, diminish appetite, cause tissue inflammation and liver damage, and alter feeding behavior. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "Microplastics have moved into virtually every crevice on Earth," 7 Aug. 2020 Since the city of Wuhan is where the Han and Yangtze rivers meet, freshwater fish is also a specialty, cooked many ways. Momo Chang,, "Bay Area’s only Hubei-style restaurant stays open despite coronavirus fears," 16 Mar. 2020 According to the Guinness Book of Records, a nine-foot-long individual caught in northern Thailand in 2005 weighted an astounding 646 pounds, making it the largest exclusively freshwater fish ever recorded. National Geographic, "Mekong giant catfish," 25 Feb. 2020 The species, which lives on fish, crabs, snakes, turtles, birds and small mammals, is considered more reclusive than its more numerous freshwater cousin, the alligator, and tends to avoid people. David Fleshler,, "Crocodiles resurging as more neighborhoods receive toothy, scaly visitors," 26 Jan. 2018 Also known as Japanese rice fish, medaka are small, freshwater fish native to Japan. Danny Lewis, Smithsonian, "Fish Don’t Do So Well in Space," 16 Jan. 2017 Snow Lake contains a healthy population of lake chubsuckers - not a game fish, but one of Ohio's rarest suckers, a small, freshwater fish barely larger than a minnow -- and an indicator species only found in high-quality glacial lakes, Seidel said. James F. Mccarty,, "Geauga County's Snow Lake Preserve is environmental keystone of Cuyahoga Wetlands: (photos, videos)," 6 Aug. 2017 Also known as Japanese rice fish, medaka are small, freshwater fish native to Japan. Danny Lewis, Smithsonian, "Fish Don’t Do So Well in Space," 16 Jan. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of freshwater


1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for freshwater

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for freshwater

Last Updated

25 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Freshwater.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for freshwater


How to pronounce fresh water (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of freshwater

: of, relating to, or living in water that is not salty


fresh·​wa·​ter | \ ˌfresh-ˈwȯ-tər How to pronounce freshwater (audio) , -ˌwä- \

Kids Definition of freshwater

: relating to or living in fresh water freshwater fish

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