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[lit-er-uh l] /ˈlɪt ər əl/
of or relating to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean.
(on ocean shores) of or relating to the biogeographic region between the sublittoral zone and the high-water line and sometimes including the supralittoral zone above the high-water line.
of or relating to the region of freshwater lake beds from the sublittoral zone up to and including damp areas on shore.
Compare intertidal.
a littoral region.
Origin of littoral
1650-60; < Latin littorālis, variant of lītorālis of the shore, equivalent to lītor- (stem of lītus) shore + -ālis -al1
Can be confused
literal, littoral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for littoral
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mexican national life has not developed much upon the littoral.

    Mexico Charles Reginald Enock
  • These remarks apply chiefly to littoral and sublittoral deposits.

    On the Origin of Species Charles Darwin
  • It had been repacked in littoral sand only found in an ancient sea-board in Germany.

    The Ocean World: Louis Figuier
  • But the littoral of Western Africa is gifted with a flora as luxuriant as it is varied.

    The Desert World Arthur Mangin
  • They are, for the most part, shallow-water or littoral forms.

    The Sea-beach at Ebb-tide Augusta Foote Arnold
  • Maize is very prolific throughout the littoral and on the tableland.

    Our First Half-Century Government of Queensland
  • There is one Headman of some importance between them and the littoral.

    Long Odds

    Harold Bindloss
  • Later he was entrusted with the control of the whole of the Mediterranean littoral.

    Napoleon's Marshals R. P. Dunn-Pattison
  • The motor-boat was nearing the centre of a deep indentation in the littoral.

    The Bandbox Louis Joseph Vance
British Dictionary definitions for littoral


of or relating to the shore of a sea, lake, or ocean
(biology) inhabiting the shore of a sea or lake or the shallow waters near the shore: littoral fauna
a coastal or shore region
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin littorālis, from lītorālis, from lītus shore
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 littoral

"pertaining to the seashore," 1650s, from Latin littoralis "of or belonging to the seashore," from litus (genitive litoris) "seashore" (cf. Lido), of unknown origin, possibly from PIE root *lei- "to flow." The noun is first recorded 1828, from Italian littorale, originally an adjective, from Latin littoralis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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littoral in Science
Relating to the coastal zone between the limits of high and low tides. The littoral zone is subject to a wide range of environmental conditions, including high-energy wave action and intermittent periods of flooding and drying along with the associated fluctuations in exposure to solar radiation and extremes of temperature. Compare sublittoral.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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