plural oceans
often attributive
: the whole body of salt water that covers nearly three fourths of the surface of the earth
The ocean covers most of our planet, regulates our weather and climate, absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide, provides most of our oxygen, and feeds much of the human population.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
: any of the large bodies of water into which the great ocean is divided
the oceans of the world
: a very large or unlimited quantity or expanse
Could have made oceans of money.James Joyce
He would have oceans of time for his ride.P. G. Wodehouse
Jutting from an ocean of prairie, they [the Sangre de Cristo mountains] run north-south like an iguana spine …Skiing

Examples of ocean in a Sentence

We've sailed across hundreds of miles of ocean. the Pacific and Indian oceans
Recent Examples on the Web Delaware Seashore State Park Delighting beachgoers with several miles of untouched coastline, Delaware Seashore State Park unveils soft sands beckoning visitors to lie under the sun, dive into the ocean's embrace or relish leisurely strolls along the water's edge. Maeghan Dolph, Fox News, 19 Nov. 2023 Don Walsh, a pioneering U.S. Navy explorer who, along with the scientist Jacques Piccard, broke the record for human deep submergence by descending nearly seven miles to the ocean’s deepest spot, died on Nov. 12 at his home in Myrtle Point, Ore. William J. Broad, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Carve out some time to stop at one of the beaches or sit atop a bluff and enjoy a cooling breeze from the ocean. Jenna Scatena, Travel + Leisure, 17 Nov. 2023 As temperatures surge and ice sheets melt, the fossils show, the oceans won’t rise evenly around the planet. Frank Hulley-Jones, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 In another, his azure contacts, framed by a brown hooded cape and taupe headscarf, are deeper than the ocean. Vulture, 17 Nov. 2023 For sunset, head a couple miles west of Chora to Pathos Club & Restaurant, for some of that old-school Ios nightlife, sushi, and incredible sunset views over the ocean. Devorah Lev-Tov, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Nov. 2023 This includes developing carbon dioxide removal technologies that remove carbon from the air and oceans to bring our atmosphere back into balance. Phil De Luna, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 As the couple traveled the high seas, Brown shared a photo at dinner with Woolley, with a view of the ocean in the background. Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 4 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ocean.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English occean "the sea flowing around the land mass of the known world," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin Ōceanus, borrowed from Greek Ōkeanós, probably of pre-Greek substratal origin

Note: Preserved variants of Greek Ōkeanós, as Ōgḗn, Ōgenós, Ōgēnós, may indicate that the velar stop, whatever its original voicing, was palatalized (hence *ūkʸān-?)—strongly suggesting non-Indo-European origin. Old attempts to find an Indo-European origin (as a comparison with Sanskrit ā-śayāna- "lying on") are unconvincing.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of ocean was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near ocean

Cite this Entry

“Ocean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the whole body of salt water that covers nearly three fourths of the surface of the earth
: one of the large bodies of water into which the ocean is divided

More from Merriam-Webster on ocean

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