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

At the time of its sale, the property’s mansion sat on a bluff overlooking the ocean and had five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Washington Post, "W.Va. coal billionaire Cline killed in helicopter crash," 6 July 2019 Asian allies host American arrays to detect Chinese submarines heading for the ocean past Japan, Taiwan or the Philippines. The Economist, "China’s maritime expansion reflects a curious mix of ambition and paranoia," 4 July 2019 The Heart of the Ocean necklace may have ended up at the bottom of the ocean at the end of Titanic, but that wasn't about to stop Céline Dion from incorporating it into her Fashion Week looks. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Céline Dion Wore the 'Titanic' Necklace During Haute Couture Fashion Week, Because of Course She Did," 3 July 2019 On air from the mountains to the oceans Berlin, born Israel Baline, was 5 years old when his family arrived in the United States, having fled anti-Semitic persecution in Russia. Nancy Coleman, New York Times, "The Rich and Complicated History of ‘God Bless America’," 3 July 2019 The two tied the knot in a romantic ceremony overlooking the ocean at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palo Verdes, California. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Say Yes to the Dress Season 17 Returns with Jenna Johnson Searching for Her Reception Gown," 3 July 2019 At Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, kids can see real, grown sharks in a 110,000-gallon habitat, as well as rays, otters, seals, jellyfish, octopi, sea turtles, eels, lobsters, crabs, starfish and other creatures that live in and around the ocean. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Sharks! on exhibit through summer at the Bruce," 3 July 2019 According to a new paper presented at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference, recent analysis suggests that the ocean is approximately a billion years old. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Enceladus's Ocean Could Be Just the Right Age For Harboring Life," 3 July 2019 Mountains, forests, rivers and the ocean converge with inspiring creatives and culinary risk takers in this small city with a huge heart. Sarah Rubin, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Eat & Drink Your Way Through Portland," 3 July 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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Learn More about ocean

Dictionary Entries near ocean


occur to





ocean basin

Statistics for ocean

Last Updated

8 Jul 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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