lit·​to·​ral | \ ˈli-tə-rəl How to pronounce littoral (audio) ; ˌli-tə-ˈral, -ˈräl \

Definition of littoral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore especially of the sea littoral waters



Definition of littoral (Entry 2 of 2)

: a coastal region especially : the shore zone between high tide and low tide points

Synonyms for littoral

Synonyms: Adjective

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You're most likely to encounter littoral in contexts relating to the military and marine sciences. A littoral combat ship is a fast and easily maneuverable combat ship built for use in coastal waters. And in marine ecology, the littoral zone is a coastal zone characterized by abundant dissolved oxygen, sunlight, nutrients, and generally high wave energies and water motion. Littoral can also be found as a noun referring to a coastal region or, more technically, to the shore zone between the high tide and low tide points. The adjective is the older of the two, dating from the mid-17th century; the noun dates from the early 19th century. The word comes to English from Latin litoralis, itself from litor- or litus, meaning "seashore."

Examples of littoral in a Sentence

Adjective littoral warfare includes amphibious landings
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective However, the littoral combat ships that are targeted are young. David Sharp, ajc, 7 Apr. 2022 As one of the littoral states on the Black Sea, Russia can claim the movement of ships through the area is to return to their home naval base. NBC News, 19 Mar. 2022 The frigates are meant to augment—and likely at some point replace—a force of 32 littoral combat ships (LCS). Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 20 Jan. 2022 The USS Halsey, which typically has a crew of about 300 officers and enlisted sailors, was the second Navy ship docked in the past week, following the littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. James Hookway, WSJ, 27 Dec. 2021 USS Milwaukee, a littoral combat ship, remained in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay following positive tests from some of its sailors, some of whom exhibited mild symptoms, according to a Friday announcement from the U.S. Navy. Jon Brown, Fox News, 27 Dec. 2021 Taipei’s residual South China Sea territorial claims could be bargaining chips for closer relations with other partners, especially littoral states like Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore. John Bolton, WSJ, 20 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The historical lands of the Swahili are on east Africa’s Indian Ocean littoral. John M. Mugane, Quartz, 5 Apr. 2022 Anyone who went to the east African littoral could choose to become Swahili, and many did. John M. Mugane, Quartz, 5 Apr. 2022 Now, in a distracted world, China proudly touts the efficiency of its surveillance state while continuing to build up its military and pursue its ambitious efforts to gain a strategic advantage along the Asian littoral. Lewis Libby, National Review, 6 May 2021 Thanksgiving along the Potomac littoral seemed a little emptier this year without Rob Odle, who died on October 2 after a tough fight with cancer. George Weigel, National Review, 2 Dec. 2019 Specifically, at a time when military strategists assessed that the greatest threats to Chinese security were coming from the sea off China’s littorals, the PLA was still dominated institutionally and doctrinally by the ground forces., 18 May 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of littoral


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above


1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for littoral

Adjective and Noun

Latin litoralis, from litor-, litus seashore

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Time Traveler for littoral

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The first known use of littoral was circa 1656

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Dictionary Entries Near littoral



littoral current

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Last Updated

16 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Littoral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for littoral


lit·​to·​ral | \ ˈli-tə-rəl; ˌli-tə-ˈral, -ˈräl How to pronounce littoral (audio) \

Legal Definition of littoral

: of, relating to, or being property abutting an ocean, sea, lake, or pond — compare riparian

More from Merriam-Webster on littoral

Nglish: Translation of littoral for Spanish Speakers


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