jet·​sam | \ ˈjet-səm How to pronounce jetsam (audio) \

Definition of jetsam

1 : the part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore

Examples of jetsam in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Perfumers rely on jetsam ambergris that washes ashore; these little fatty blobs are worth thousands of dollars. Kate Sullivan,, "Women Invented Perfume — Now, They’re Taking It Back," 20 Mar. 2020 Maine has its share of hoarders, and one of the joys of traveling the state is to browse the flotsam and jetsam of human enterprise without feeling the pull to bring (almost) any of it into your own home. James Sullivan,, "Driven by one goal: To meander in Maine," 27 June 2019 An environmental envoi, perhaps, with Buzz washed up on a beach alongside other jetsam, or clogging the gullet of a whale? Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Toy Story 4” Plays It Again," 21 June 2019 Eighteen days after closing the deal, Coolen learned the Raptors had acquired Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs for DeMar DeRozan and assorted flotsam and jetsam. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "You want fries with that 3-pointer? How Raptors have cost McDonald’s $5.8 million in free fast food," 7 June 2019 Alexander Dodge’s set, a jaunty playground of flotsam and jetsam, is strewn with cinema seats in a production that revels in the open theatricality of the play. Charles Mcnulty,, "'The Tempest' at the Old Globe: Kate Burton casts a benevolent spell as Prospera," 26 June 2018 But even the films that, at the time, were written off as flotsam and jetsam . . Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader, "Film / History The Music Box kicks off a season of Michael Curtiz revivals with the silent melodrama A Million Bid," 20 Apr. 2018 After sifting through mountains of Xbox flotsam and jetsam, Van Cleave talked the recyclers into letting him take home five motherboards. Brendan I. Koerner, WIRED, "The Young and the Reckless," 17 Apr. 2018 Smallest flotsam and jetsam can be used as the base for your newest compost pile. Sally Mccabe,, "April 6-12: In the garden, it's time to… | Sally McCabe," 5 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'jetsam.' 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 jetsam

1591, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for jetsam

alteration of jettison

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Time Traveler for jetsam

Time Traveler

The first known use of jetsam was in 1591

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Cite this Entry

“Jetsam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for jetsam


How to pronounce jetsam (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of jetsam

: floating objects that are thrown into the water from a ship


jet·​sam | \ ˈjet-səm How to pronounce jetsam (audio) \

Kids Definition of jetsam

: goods thrown overboard to lighten a ship in danger of sinking


jet·​sam | \ ˈjet-səm How to pronounce jetsam (audio) \

Legal Definition of jetsam

: the part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is cast overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and that sinks or is washed ashore — compare flotsam

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