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 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 Unlike natural and freshwater pearls, cultured pearls are not naturally-occuring. Sian Babish,, 10 Mar. 2021 That’s why many coastal and freshwater fish in Florida, including the largemouth bass, already have recommended consumption limits by the Florida Department of Health., 28 Dec. 2020 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, 7 Aug. 2020

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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Dictionary Entries Near freshwater

fresh water


freshwater catfish

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Statistics for freshwater

Last Updated

7 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Freshwater.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for freshwater



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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