coast

[ kohst ]
/ koʊst /

noun

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

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Idioms for coast

    the coast is clear, no danger or impediment exists; no persons are in the path or vicinity: The boys waited until the coast was clear before climbing over the wall.

Origin of coast

1325–75; (noun) Middle English cost(e) < Anglo-French, Middle French < Latin costa rib, side, wall; (v.) Middle English cost(e)yen, costen < Anglo-French costeier, Old French costoier, derivative of the noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does coast mean?

As a noun, coast most commonly refers to the land next to the sea or ocean, or the region near it. As a verb, coast often means to move along smoothly or without much effort, but it is used differently in different contexts.

Coast has many specific definitions, but they are all related to one of these two main meanings.

Example: During our bike ride, we coasted down the mountain road, where you can see almost the entire coast of the island.

Where does coast come from?

The first records of the word coast in English comes from the 1300s. The noun form is a derivative of the Middle English word cost(e), which came from the Latin word costa, meaning “side” or “wall.” The verb form can be traced back to the same Latin word and once meant “to travel along the side or border (of a place).”

The coast is where the ocean or sea meets the land. The outline that’s formed at the border of the land is called the coastline. Coast is usually used for very large bodies of water—you typically wouldn’t use coast to refer to the banks of a small lake. The use of coast as a noun is often extended to the land around the coastline (as in a house on the coast, with a view of the beach). It is sometimes then further extended to the entire region around the coast (as in the East Coast and West Coast of the United States).

As a verb, to coast often means to travel forward using only momentum, as opposed to an external form of propulsion. For example, when you coast in a car, you keep moving without pushing down on the accelerator pedal (that is, you don’t use the motor to propel the car). When you coast on a bike, you keep moving without pedaling. In both of these cases, coasting is typically done when moving downhill or on a flat surface. To coast in a small boat like a kayak, you first need to row, unless the current is strong enough to carry you along.

This meaning of coast inspired its figurative sense—”to proceed without effort.” For example, someone who’s coasting at work has stopped working hard and is instead getting by without doing much, perhaps by relying on their past efforts or by taking advantage of the work of others. (This a lot like taking one’s foot off the gas pedal in a car or just drifting downhill on a bike without pedaling.)

Somewhat similarly, if a person or team coasts to victory in a game or competition, it means they were able to win easily, without needing to put forth maximum effort.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms of coast?

  • coastal (adjective)

What are some synonyms for coast?

What are some words that share a root or word element with coast

What are some words that often get used in discussing coast?

How is coast used in real life?

As a noun, coast can refer to the shoreline, or the land around it, or the entire region the borders it. As a verb, coast is used literally when traveling in a vehicle using only forward momentum, or figuratively when proceeding without much effort.

 

 

Try using coast!

Which of the following words is not a synonym for the verb coast?

A. accelerate
B. glide
C. drift
D. sail

Example sentences from the Web for coast

British Dictionary definitions for coast

coast
/ (kəʊst) /

noun

verb

Derived forms of coast

coastal, adjectivecoastally, adverb

Word Origin for coast

C13: from Old French coste coast, slope, from Latin costa side, rib
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