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 The quake was detected in the ocean, at a depth of nearly 9 miles beneath the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "3.6-magnitude quake strikes in waters south of Muir Beach," 31 Dec. 2020 There was a rumor that Walsh’s killers put his body in concrete and dumped him in the ocean off Block Island. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "2020 marked the 100th anniversary of Prohibition - a wild time when New England became a hotbed of illegal liquor," 30 Dec. 2020 Previous data showed that the United States contributes 0.9% of the nearly 9 million metric tons of plastic found in the ocean, while Asia accounts for 71.1% of the plastic. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Masks add up to 6,240 metric tons of plastic pollution to oceans in 2020," 28 Dec. 2020 That’s a drop in the bucket next to the approximately 360,000 people slated to get immunized first, and a a drop in the ocean next to the 3 million or so Oregonians who must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. oregonlive, "Coronavirus in Oregon: 871 new cases, 12 deaths as UO researchers find ‘entrenched’ vaccine ignorance," 24 Dec. 2020 If several strains had established themselves in the ocean as a result of years of shipping, the tsunami could have washed them ashore simultaneously across hundreds of miles of coast. Jennifer Frazer, Scientific American, "Tsunami May Have Seeded a Fungal Outbreak in Pacific Northwest," 23 Dec. 2020 One part is focused on trying to prevent American plastics from ending up in the ocean. Aubrey Wieber, Anchorage Daily News, "After second Save Our Seas bill signed into law, Alaska Sen. Sullivan looks to a third version," 22 Dec. 2020 Take for example the time when, in a congressional hearing, Alabama’s most embarrassing congressman argued that rising sea levels were due to rocks falling in the ocean. Kyle Whitmire, al, "Whitmire: Mo Brooks knows better than you," 4 Dec. 2020 Data on white shark population sizes, life histories and migratory patterns, can be used to inform marine protection policy, says Block, adding that sharks play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance in the ocean. Leif Coorlim, CNN, "As white sharks gather in Monterey Bay, scientists grab the chance to study them up close," 3 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ocean

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ocean

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ocean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ocean. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for ocean


How to pronounce ocean (audio)

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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