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 But economic thinking has undergone a sea change since then. New York Times, "How Full Employment Became Washington’s Creed," 18 Jan. 2021 The announcement represents a sea change in addiction medicine during the final days of the Trump administration. Lev Facher, STAT, "Trump administration will let nearly all doctors prescribe addiction medicine buprenorphine," 14 Jan. 2021 Like so many other things in 2020, Hollywood is in the midst of a sea change. Jennifer M. Wood, Wired, "The 20 Most Underrated Movies of the Past 20 Years," 24 Dec. 2020 Like many Americans, hospital workers are looking forward to the widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and see it as a potential sea change. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, "Beds filling halls. Agonizing ER waits. Burned-out staff. Inside overloaded California hospitals," 16 Dec. 2020 America’s well-chronicled, rising health-care costs have caused a quiet sea change in the tax burden of the middle class. Washington Post, "Politicians say the middle class gets a bad deal from the U.S. tax system. They’re (kind of) wrong.," 10 Dec. 2020 The shifting regulatory environment comes amid a sea change in how Arizona generates electricity. Benjamin Storrow, Scientific American, "With GOP Support, Arizona Mandates Cleaner Energy," 17 Nov. 2020 That could mark a sea change in car buying, because $25,000 is also the U.S. starting price for two extremely popular gas-burning cars: the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Tesla lays out path to an electric car cheap enough for most people," 23 Sep. 2020 That sea change in attitudes explains Suga’s evasiveness on the nuclear question. Eric Margolis, The New Republic, "The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Put Japan’s Climate Policy in a Decade-Long Purgatory," 17 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for sea change

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The first known use of sea change was in 1612

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Last Updated

25 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sea change.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for sea change

sea change


English Language Learners Definition of sea change

: a big and sudden change

More from Merriam-Webster on sea change

Nglish: Translation of sea change for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sea change for Arabic Speakers

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