Seas The Day: Words That Shore Are Beachy

Avoid pier pressure on your next trip to the beach with this salty list of maritime vocabulary.

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definitions & notes only words
  1. barnacle
    marine crustacean with feathery food-catching appendages
    The findings include sponges, molluscs, crustaceans and barnacles that might be completely new to science.Nature (May 5, 2020)
  2. current
    a steady flow of a fluid or gas
    The man, in his 30s, and the child became caught in dangerous rip currents in the waters off the 4200 block of Ocean Front Walk about 3:40 p.m.Los Angeles Times (May 18, 2020)
  3. dinghy
    a small boat of shallow draft
    Their dinghy was spotted by a French Navy helicopter.Fox News (Mar 25, 2020)
    Dingi means "small boat" in Hindi. You'll often see a dingy, powered either with oars or a motor, towed behind larger boats.
  4. dune
    a ridge of sand created by the wind
    For Vatanen, a religious man, driving is an art form and the gravel roads, forest tracks and sand dunes provided the canvas for his talent.Reuters (Apr 26, 2020)
    In Old English, dun means "hill."
  5. ebb
    the outward flow of the tide
    But for Ahmed al-Mufti, and the farmers keeping a watchful eye on the ebbing river waters, the threat is one far bigger than Khartoum’s golf courses.The Guardian (Apr 23, 2020)
  6. estuary
    the wide part of a river where it nears the sea
    “The BP oil spill in and of itself did extensive damage, but it also further exacerbated factors causing land loss in ecosystems and estuaries.”Washington Post (Apr 19, 2020)
    Aestuarium is a Latin adjective meaning "tidal."
  7. flotsam
    the floating wreckage of a ship
    Later, after they became friends, Sooley helped Jarman gather flotsam for the garden on the beach, and drove the filmmaker to and from hospital many times.New York Times (Apr 17, 2020)
    The Old French verb floter is the source of our float, and also flotsam: things that remain on the surface after a shipwreck and ultimately wash ashore.
  8. jetsam
    part of a ship's cargo thrown overboard to lighten the load
    Mr Taverner, 44, regularly scans the shoreline for flotsam and jetsam to create pieces of art.BBC (Mar 6, 2020)
    Jetsam is a variant of jettison, "to throw overboard." Where flotsam is accidental, jetsam is purposeful. Jetsam's specific form likely originated to make it look and sound more like flotsam.
  9. littoral
    of or relating to a coastal or shore region
    Improved undersea navigation and detection technology, using new sonar, increased computer automation and artificial intelligence, enable quieter, faster movements in littoral waters where enemy mines, small boats and other threatening assets often operate.Fox News (Dec 9, 2019)
  10. palm
    a plant with an unbranched trunk and large pinnate leaves
    When inadequate forest resources led Pteropus fruit bats in Bangladesh to visit date palm trees, people unwittingly drank Nipah virus along with their customary raw date palm sap.Scientific American (May 15, 2020)
    Nothing quite symbolizes the tropics like a palm tree.
  11. pier
    a platform built out from the shore into the water
    A throng of people were sunbathing on the green lawn of a Manhattan pier.New York Times (May 11, 2020)
  12. quay
    wharf usually built parallel to the shoreline
    The sun glints off the morning swells and the aluminum masts of the sailboats, which bob like a vast paddling of sleeping ducks along the quay.New York Times (Oct 16, 2019)
    A quay is a built-up part of the shore where boats can dock.
  13. shore
    the land along the edge of a body of water
    New Jersey also plans to reopen its beaches and shore points this weekend, in time for Memorial Day.Washington Times (May 18, 2020)
    From the Germanic word schore, shore may come from the same root as shear, "cut," as in the line that divides land and water.
  14. tide
    the periodic rise and fall of the sea level
    There would be no clams for lunch—you clammed at low tide, on the sandbars.Homecoming
  15. undertow
    a current that flows away from the shore after waves break
    But winds of 30 mph and a strong undertow pulled the canoe away from shore.Washington Post (Apr 8, 2020)
  16. wharf
    a platform from the shore that provides access to ships
    Public beach access points, piers, docks and wharfs were allowed to reopen on April 21.Washington Times (May 4, 2020)
    A wharf is a large, sturdy structure sticking out into the water. It might have several stories or buildings on it, and may also have multiple piers and quays (both on this list) attached to it.
  17. yacht
    an expensive vessel propelled by sail or power
    His other properties include a 50-foot yacht with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.Los Angeles Times (May 7, 2020)
Created on May 18, 2020 (updated June 14, 2020)

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