noun, often attributive
\ ˈō-shən How to pronounce ocean (audio) \

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

But on November 7, 2017, Halladay died when his plane crashed into the ocean 10 miles west of St. Petersburg, Florida. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Son of Late MLB Great Roy Halladay Is Drafted by Toronto Blue Jays — His Dad's Former Team," 6 June 2019 The probation violations stem from a 2016 conviction for dumping oily waste into the ocean -- and covering it up -- for eight years. Taylor Dolven, Caitlin Ostroff, Anchorage Daily News, "Carnival Corp. pleads guilty to pollution probation violations, agrees to $20 million fine," 4 June 2019 Gary Mudrow, 44, dropped nearly 400 feet from the promontory of Cape Lookout State Park into the ocean Sunday, the Oregon State Police said, citing witness accounts. oregonlive.com, "Cape Lookout State Park paragliding death is the second in two years," 4 June 2019 The other two approaches show larger swings in the amount of CO2 going into the ocean during the 1990s and 2000s. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "The oceans absorbed extra CO₂ in the 2000s," 31 May 2019 One of the highlights of Northern Ireland’s stunning Causeway Coast Route is the epic scene at Dunluce, where the ruins of a 16th-century castle sit atop a sheer basalt cliff that drops dramatically into the ocean. Todd Plummer, Town & Country, "5 Amazing Locations in Ireland," 21 May 2019 However, the center booster experienced a software glitch and crashed into the ocean. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "SpaceX Loses its Rocket Booster to Rough Seas," 16 Apr. 2019 According to The Japan Times, parts of the aircraft were recovered at a depth of 1,500 meters—or 4,900 feet—below the surface of the ocean. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Ends Search for Missing F-35 Fighter Jet," 10 May 2019 Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific. Seth Borenstein, The Seattle Times, "Big U-turn: Key melting Greenland glacier is growing again," 27 Mar. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near ocean


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ocean basin

Statistics for ocean

Last Updated

10 Jun 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
informal : a very large number or amount of something


\ ˈō-shən How to pronounce ocean (audio) \

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

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