noun, often attributive
\ ˈō-shən \

Definition of ocean

1a : the whole body of salt water that covers nearly three fourths of the surface of the earth
b : any of the large bodies of water (such as the Atlantic Ocean) into which the great ocean is divided
2 : a very large or unlimited space or quantity

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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

So are the various technologies used to scour the ocean floor, and the daunting obstacles faced by the research crew. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘USS Indianapolis: The Final Chapter’ Review: The Depths of Tragedy," 3 Jan. 2019 When the tide is low, visitors will be able to walk between the two buildings on a pathway that stretches into the ocean. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Otherworldly new museum is built into a sand dune," 17 Dec. 2018 What’s more, a shocking 91% of plastics aren’t recycled – and more than 8 million tons of it are dumped into the ocean each year. Good Housekeeping, "Frequently Asked Questions About Good Housekeeping's Sustainability Awards," 7 Nov. 2018 Jordan Kimball and Jenna Cooper may provide Bachelor in Paradise with lots of comedic relief (see: the time Jordan threw a giant stuffed animal into the ocean, but their love is the real deal. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "Here's What Is Next for Bachelor in Paradise's Newly Engaged Jenna Cooper and Jordan Kimball," 11 Sep. 2018 Later, bones were found that showed signs of cannibalism, and the ships were located at the bottom of the ocean in just the past 10 years. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The 7 best TV shows of 2018," 26 Dec. 2018 The sunny dwelling has multiple skylights and windows that look out onto a landscaped backyard filled with garden paths and trees, as well as peeks of the ocean. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Rustic midcentury cabin minutes from beach asks $798K," 20 Nov. 2018 Anthropologie, for example, has a series of intricate ocean-themed Christmas tree ornaments that will do the trick a little more subtly. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Mermaid Stockings Are The Sparkly New Trend Taking Over Christmas This Year," 13 Nov. 2018 The hotel has 19 ocean-facing rooms and two saltwater pools, one set into the side of the cliff. Sara Clemence, WSJ, "7 Beach Resorts You Can Still Book for Christmas Week," 25 Oct. 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for ocean

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.

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Learn More about ocean

Dictionary Entries near ocean


occur to





ocean basin

Statistics for ocean

Last Updated

21 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ocean

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

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More Definitions for ocean



English Language Learners Definition of ocean

: the salt water that covers much of the Earth's surface

: one of the five large areas of salt water that cover much of the Earth's surface

: a very large number or amount of something


\ ˈō-shən \

Kids Definition of ocean

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on ocean

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ocean

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ocean

Spanish Central: Translation of ocean

Nglish: Translation of ocean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ocean for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ocean

Comments on ocean

What made you want to look up ocean? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to gather or build up little by little

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