[oh-shuh n]
See more synonyms for ocean on Thesaurus.com
  1. the vast body of salt water that covers almost three fourths of the earth's surface.
  2. any of the geographical divisions of this body, commonly given as the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic oceans.
  3. a vast expanse or quantity: an ocean of grass.

Origin of ocean

1250–1300; Middle English ocean(e) (< Old French) < Latin ōceanus, special use of Ōceanus Oceanus < Greek ōkeanós, Ōkeanós
Related formso·cean·like, adjectivein·ter·o·cean, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for ocean

tide, pond, puddle, sea, blue, drink, deep, briny, brine, sink, main, seaway

Examples from the Web for ocean

Contemporary Examples of ocean

Historical Examples of ocean

  • In the broad pathways of the ocean such a chance is doubtful.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Twenty-four hours have now passed, and we are still tossing about on the ocean.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • We on the other hand cross the ocean in sixteen hours in a flying machine.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Five men were floating about in a boat in the Southern ocean.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Though the cove was more quiet than the ocean, yet it was fearful enough, even there.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

British Dictionary definitions for ocean


  1. a very large stretch of sea, esp one of the five oceans of the world, the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Antarctic
  2. the body of salt water covering approximately 70 per cent of the earth's surface
  3. a huge quantity or expansean ocean of replies
  4. literary the sea

Word Origin for ocean

C13: via Old French from Latin ōceanus, from Greek ōkeanos Oceanus
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 ocean

late 13c., from Old French occean "ocean" (12c., Modern French océan), from Latin oceanus, from Greek okeanos, the great river or sea surrounding the disk of the Earth (as opposed to the Mediterranean), of unknown origin. Personified as Oceanus, son of Uranus and Gaia and husband of Tethys. In early times, when the only known land masses were Eurasia and Africa, the ocean was an endless river that flowed around them. Until c.1650, commonly ocean sea, translating Latin mare oceanum. Application to individual bodies of water began 14c.; there are usually reckoned to be five of them, but this is arbitrary; also occasionally applied to smaller subdivisions, e.g. German Ocean "North Sea."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ocean in Science


  1. The continuous body of salt water that covers 72 percent of the Earth's surface. The average salinity of ocean water is approximately three percent. The deepest known area of the ocean, at 11,034 m (36,192 ft) is the Mariana Trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean.
  2. Any of the principal divisions of this body of water, including the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans.
Usage: The word ocean refers to one of the Earth's four distinct, large areas of salt water, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic Oceans. The word can also mean the entire network of water that covers almost three quarters of our planet. It comes from the Greek Okeanos, a river believed to circle the globe. The word sea can also mean the vast ocean covering most of the world. But it more commonly refers to large landlocked or almost landlocked salty waters smaller than the great oceans, such as the Mediterranean Sea or the Bering Sea. Sailors have long referred to all the world's waters as the seven seas. Although the origin of this phrase is not known for certain, many people believe it referred to the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Caspian Sea, and the Indian Ocean, which were the waters of primary interest to Europeans before Columbus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.