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

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Did You Know?

In Shakespeare's The Tempest, a sea-change is a change brought about by sea: Full fathom five thy father lies ... / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change. This meaning is the original one, but it's now archaic. Long after sea change had gained its figurative meaning, however, writers 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.

Examples of sea change in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In this op-ed about Taylor Swift’s surprisingly political Instagram post, writer Lily Herman breaks down how her endorsement of Democratic candidates fits into a political sea change following Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Lily Herman, Teen Vogue, "Taylor Swift's Political Instagram Post Is a Sign of the Post–Brett Kavanaugh Times," 8 Oct. 2018 Burberry’s new fur-free policy is part of a sea change in the luxury industry. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Burberry’s Future is Fur-Free—And Much More Sustainable," 6 Sep. 2018 President Donald Trump's expression of support Friday for legislation that would protect legal marijuana activities in states that have approved the drug is being hailed as a possible sea change in American narcotics policy. Dennis Romero /, NBC News, "Trump says he'll probably back marijuana protections bill," 9 June 2018 Getty Images So much for a woman in charge leading to a sea change. Courtney Tenz, Marie Claire, "Angela Merkel Is Not Your Feminist Icon," 21 Sep. 2017 Expect a sea change in the Latin music business as women both on and offstage assume leadership roles and fight back against an industry that is legendary for sexism. Jessica Lipsky, Billboard, "Latin Women Take The Reins: Insights From the Latin Alternative Music Conference," 13 July 2018 Still, his comments marked a sea change from the views expressed weeks earlier by his national security adviser John Bolton, who was notably absent from Friday's meeting. CBS News, "Trump hints at longer path for North Korea to denuke," 2 June 2018 My prediction is this is the beginning of a sea change, as Amazon will be able to serve on the front lines of consumer health care. Casey Ross, STAT, "As Atul Gawande steps into a risky health CEO role, here are five challenges he faces," 9 July 2018 The dozens of meteorologists enthusiastically supporting this effort is symbolic of a sea change in their views about climate change. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "Why are more than 100 television meteorologists around the world wearing this tie?," 21 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of sea change

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for sea change

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for sea change

The first known use of sea change was in 1612

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More Definitions for sea change

sea change


English Language Learners Definition of sea change

: a big and sudden change

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