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 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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Cite this Entry

“Freshwater.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 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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Comments on freshwater

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