[lit-er-uh l]


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 confusedliteral littoral Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for littoral

Contemporary Examples of littoral

Historical Examples of littoral

  • Mexican national life has not developed much upon the littoral.


    Charles Reginald Enock

  • These remarks apply chiefly to littoral and sublittoral deposits.

  • 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

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 shorelittoral fauna


a coastal or shore region

Word Origin for littoral

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

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

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.