sea change


Definition of sea change

1 archaic : a change brought about by the sea
2 : a marked change : transformation a sea change in public policy

Did you know?

In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, a sea change is a change brought about by the sea, as illustrated by the words of the sprite Ariel to Ferdinand, said to make the prince believe that his father has perished in a shipwreck: "Full fathom five thy father lies...; / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / into something rich and strange." This meaning of sea change is the original one, but it's now archaic. Long after sea change had gained its figurative meaning—that of any marked or permanent transformation—writers nonetheless continued to allude to Shakespeare's literal one; Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and P.G. Wodehouse all used the term as an object of the verb suffer, but now a sea change is just as likely to be undergone or experienced.

Examples of sea change in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The observation may reflect a sea change in how younger Americans view alcohol, Aaron White, chief of epidemiology and biometry at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told ABC News. Byeli Cahan, ABC News, 10 May 2022 Parrish, which upheld a Washington state minimum wage law, marked a sea change in the court’s approach to labor law. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Bitcoin represents a sea change in financial systems. Robert Samuels | For Iron Monk Solutions, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Apr. 2022 Hit hard by ongoing worker shortages, high-growth industries are fighting back with pioneering training and development strategies that portend a sea change in employee learning. Susan Galer, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 But the fact that venture capitalists who are focused on early-stage companies are increasingly funding Web3 startups rather than A.I. underscores a potential sea change in the tech industry. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 29 Mar. 2022 Moscow's continued aggression could bring the European Union on board, a move that could prompt a sea change in how the continent buys its energy. Charles Riley, CNN, 21 Mar. 2022 Over the past two weeks, polls in both countries have shown a sea change in public opinion in favor of joining NATO — a stance now shared by a slim majority in both countries for the first time. Washington Post, 14 Mar. 2022 Its passage would mark a sea change in the government’s ability to track a wave of cyberattacks that have hit health systems and other businesses across the United States in recent years. Casey Ross, STAT, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sea change.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sea change

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About sea change

Time Traveler for sea change

Time Traveler

The first known use of sea change was in 1612

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About sea change

Dictionary Entries Near sea change

sea centipede

sea change

sea chest

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sea change

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sea change.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on sea change

Nglish: Translation of sea change for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sea change for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!