• synonyms


  1. a layer of water in an ocean or certain lakes, where the temperature gradient is greater than that of the warmer layer above and the colder layer below.
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Origin of thermocline

1895–1900; thermo- + Greek klī́nē bed
Related formsther·mo·clin·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for thermocline

Historical Examples

  • This zone, known as the thermocline, may reach a depth of 1000 meters.

    Atoms, Nature, and Man

    Neal O. Hines

British Dictionary definitions for thermocline


  1. a temperature gradient in a thermally stratified body of water, such as a lake
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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 thermocline


1898, from thermo- + -cline, from Greek klinein "to slope" (see lean (v.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

thermocline in Science


  1. A distinct layer in a large body of water, such as an ocean or lake, in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below. Thermoclines may be a permanent feature of the body of water in which they occur, or they may form temporarily in response to phenomena such as the solar heating of surface water during the day. Factors that affect the depth and thickness of a thermocline include seasonal weather variations, latitude and longitude, and local environmental conditions.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.