Jetsam is debris floating around the water that has been dumped from a sinking ship. Sometimes beachcombers find jetsam washed up on shore.

You often see the phrase "flotsam and jetsam" because both words refer to wreckage from a ship, but how the stuff got there is the difference. Flotsam is from a shipwreck, and jetsam is thrown off the ship to prevent it from sinking. People often use jetsam to mean any discarded objects, not just from the ocean.

Definitions of jetsam
  1. noun
    the part of a ship's equipment or cargo that is thrown overboard to lighten the load in a storm
    see moresee less
    type of:
    part, portion
    something less than the whole of a human artifact
  2. noun
    the floating wreckage of a ship
    synonyms: flotsam
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the remaining parts of something that has been wrecked
Word Family
F1 image

Express yourself in 25 languages

  • Learn immersively - no memorization required
  • Build skills for real-world conversations
  • Get immediate feedback on your pronunciation
Get started for $7.99/month