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[es-choo-er-ee] /ˈɛs tʃuˌɛr i/
noun, plural estuaries.
that part of the mouth or lower course of a river in which the river's current meets the sea's tide.
an arm or inlet of the sea at the lower end of a river.
Origin of estuary
1530-40; < Latin aestuārium channel, creek, inlet, equivalent to aestu(s) tide + -ārium -ary
Related forms
[es-choo-air-ee-uh l] /ˌɛs tʃuˈɛər i əl/ (Show IPA),
Can be confused
delta, estuary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for estuary
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Over the estuary of the Rhine River Stan met his first flak.

  • It was raw and damp as we rowed into the estuary at sunrise in search of the seals.

    A Labrador Doctor

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
  • By three o'clock they had left the estuary of the Seine and entered the Channel.

    The Blonde Lady

    Maurice Leblanc
  • The topsail and jib were spread, and the sloop glided out of the estuary.

  • It is across this estuary that the lower bridge has been built.

    Grey Town Gerald Baldwin
  • What had been sea at one period had been estuary or lake at another.

British Dictionary definitions for estuary


noun (pl) -aries
the widening channel of a river where it nears the sea, with a mixing of fresh water and salt (tidal) water
an inlet of the sea
Derived Forms
estuarial (ˌɛstjʊˈɛərɪəl) adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin aestuārium marsh, channel, from aestus tide, billowing movement, related to aestās summer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for estuary

1530s, from Latin aestuarium "a tidal marsh or opening," from aestus "boiling (of the sea), tide, heat," from PIE *aidh- "to burn" (see edifice). Related: Estuaries; estuarine.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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estuary in Science
  1. The wide lower course of a river where it flows into the sea. Estuaries experience tidal flows and their water is a changing mixture of fresh and salt.

  2. An arm of the sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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estuary in Culture
estuary [(es-chooh-er-ee)]

A wide body of water formed where a large river meets the sea. It contains both fresh and salt water.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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