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  1. a tract of low wet land, often treeless and periodically inundated, generally characterized by a growth of grasses, sedges, cattails, and rushes.

Origin of marsh

before 900; Middle English mershe, Old English mer(i)sc (cognate with German Marsch). See mere2, -ish1; cf. marais, marish, morass
Related formsmarsh·like, adjective


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swamp, bog, fen, marshland, wetland.


  1. Dame (Edith) Ngai·o [nahy-oh] /ˈnaɪ oʊ/, 1899–1982, New Zealand writer of detective novels.
  2. Reginald,1898–1954, U.S. painter and illustrator.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for marsh


  1. low poorly drained land that is sometimes flooded and often lies at the edge of lakes, streams, etcCompare swamp (def. 1) Related adjective: paludal
Derived Formsmarshlike, adjective

Word Origin

Old English merisc; related to German Marsch, Dutch marsk; related to mere ²


  1. Dame (Edith) Ngaio (ˈnaɪəʊ). 1899–1981, New Zealand crime writer, living in Britain (from 1928). Her many detective novels include Final Curtain (1947) and Last Ditch (1977)
  2. Rodney (William). born 1947, Australian cricketer: a wicketkeeper, he took 355 dismissals in 96 test matches (1970–84)
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

Word Origin and History for marsh


Old English mersc, merisc "marsh, swamp," from West Germanic *marisko (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon marsk "marsh," Middle Dutch mersch, Dutch mars, German Marsch, Danish marsk), probably from Proto-Germanic *mari- "sea" (see mere (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

marsh in Science


  1. An area of low-lying wetland in which the level of water is generally shallow and often fluctuating. The water may be either standing or slow-moving. The water in a marsh is also more or less neutral or alkaline, in contrast to the water in a bog, which is acidic. The environment of a marsh is in general well-oxygenated and nutrient-rich and allows a great variety of organisms to flourish. In contrast to a swamp, in which there is an abundance of woody plants, the plants in a marsh are mostly herbaceous. Reeds and rushes dominate the vegetation of marshes. See also salt marsh.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.