Definition of sea in US English:



often the sea
  • 1The expanse of salt water that covers most of the earth's surface and surrounds its landmasses.

    ‘a ban on dumping radioactive wastes in the sea’
    ‘rocky bays lapped by vivid blue sea’
    as modifier ‘a sea view’
    • ‘She breathed in and smelt the salty sea mixed with a sent of spring.’
    • ‘On Tybee Island, it was estimated that 43.82 acres of land would be lost to the sea.’
    • ‘Yields of herring, sea urchin and rockfish also dropped dramatically during this season.’
    • ‘Whereas estimates of phytoplankton were initially too high, sea ice primary production estimates were initially too low.’
    • ‘And I immediately felt that inside me was this inland ocean with its population of one, this little sea mammal who was swimming around.’
    • ‘Facing the dark open sea and silent of traffic, the village at night is a bubble of conviviality.’
    • ‘The waves of the deep blue sea lapped softly at the shore.’
    • ‘For Rachel, the vastness of the sea brings comfort and reassurance - it's a constant, she says, in a constantly changing world, and its great expanse puts our problems into perspective.’
    • ‘New standards to help safeguard the welfare of animals transported by road and sea have been agreed at a major conference in Paris.’
    • ‘But the lure of the sea was too much and he joined the family as they trawled the beaches.’
    • ‘Sadly, the most easily-attainable sources for iodine are iodized salt and sea products, both of which can be taboo for pregnant women.’
    • ‘They look for trilobites and fossilised sea creatures that are preserved in the stone along the path, easily spottable for amateur fossil hunters.’
    • ‘I looked down, and saw a small island in the middle of the turquoise sea.’
    • ‘They swim in inland waters and lakes and never taste the salty sea.’
    • ‘The jet started to rotate and face the open sea.’
    • ‘I walked over to an east-facing balcony that overlooks the sea far below.’
    • ‘Fiji's natural beauty white sand beaches, calm blue seas and nodding palm trees - remains a considerable pull.’
    • ‘The coastline is made up of various shades of gold set in a translucent turquoise sea.’
    • ‘They may remember the hot salty sea, their ancestral home, their first food.’
    • ‘Although, ironically, the lack of rain in recent years has made the problem worse, as winter flows can help flush sediments through the system and out to sea.’
    • ‘The lone wooden bench overlooking the vast sea beckoned her for company.’
    ocean, the ocean, the waves
    marine, ocean, oceanic
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    1. 1.1often in place names A roughly definable area of the sea.
      ‘the Black Sea’
      • ‘The White Sea is an inlet of the Barents Sea on the northwest coast of Russia.’
      • ‘The audience could imagine the various routes leading to the edge of the Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean seas, as though we stood on a contour model with rivers and mountains.’
      • ‘The goal of Save the North Sea project has been to reduce marine litter in the North Sea by changing the attitudes and behaviour of the people using the area.’
      • ‘Population genetic structures of the mackerel (Scomber scombrus) and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) were studied in the Mediterranean Sea.’
      • ‘Between screens and building are long thin pools, symbolic of the three seas that surround Anatolia.’
    2. 1.2in place names A large lake.
      ‘the Sea of Galilee’
      • ‘Since the beginning of time, the Sea of Galilee has provided its fishermen with a plentiful source of sustenance.’
      • ‘Once the world's fourth largest lake, the mighty Aral Sea is now in its death throes.’
      • ‘Surely the simplest answer to the Dead Sea saltiness question is that it is really a lake which has no outlet.’
    3. 1.3 Used to refer to waves as opposed to calm sea.
      ‘there was still some sea running’
      • ‘My walk is an inelegant bob… as if navigating a choppy sea.’
      • ‘Using it first time in a crowded boat in a rough sea is a recipe for disaster.’
    4. 1.4seas Large waves.
      ‘the lifeboat met seas of thirty-five feet head-on’
      • ‘Weather has also contributed to the seclusion and peculiarity of the Azores - stormy winter seas often prevent access to the smaller islands even by air for days at a time.’
      • ‘Two Plexiglas dioramas of a boat on storm-tossed seas depicted Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated South Pole expedition of 1914.’
      • ‘The farmer is left to trawl the seas, casting a net for profit in an export-driven market.’
      • ‘But the seas are beginning to part, and several paths forward are appearing before you.’
      • ‘However, the flagship was soon buffeted by very heavy seas, and began taking on water.’
      • ‘At 6:30 the next morning, the seas were finally calm, and we pulled into the port of New York.’
      • ‘The winds that night blew a full gale, and they piled up seas bigger than I could ever have hoped to handle.’
      • ‘The artist's rising seas appear to be made of metal, stone, earth and glass, as well as water.’
      • ‘He captures the seas as well as the tranquil horizons in his works.’
      • ‘While the seas can be savage, Graham loves the power of the ocean, the wildness of the local landscape and, in particular, the clarity of the light in this part of Scotland.’
      • ‘Fish were recorded thrown ashore in all tidal phases and there was little evidence rough seas were responsible.’
      wave, breaker, roller, comber, billow
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    5. 1.5 A vast expanse or quantity of something.
      ‘she scanned the sea of faces for Stephen’
      • ‘Sioux County, Iowa, is a fertile, wall-to-wall sea of corn and soybeans.’
      • ‘From freezers and hardening tunnels to compressors, evaporators and air handling units, a sea of chilling and freezing equipment is available to the dairy industry.’
      • ‘Shot in Brazil at a dozen different games, this 8 1/2-minute video consists of seas of rapturous fans in the montage of color that Dean often features in his works.’
      • ‘After wading around in difficult seas of theory and producing some charming and intriguing drawings, he made his name with the Jewish Museum in Berlin.’
      • ‘From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial you saw a sea of humanity.’
      • ‘If it does not, we shall descend into the kind of world that is already suggested in some US and Asian cities, with islands of vulgar opulence isolated in seas of mediocrity - or worse.’
      • ‘And in the past few weeks, something completely different has emerged: ballpoint on canvas, seas of tiny reptile-like scales, swirling away in the artist's characteristic fashion.’
      • ‘It was great fun to watch a sea of red and white jogging around the town.’
      • ‘Others will find a healthful haven among a sea of fortified yogurts and dairy beverages.’
      • ‘As we approached the town, I was shocked to see a sea of red from horizon to horizon.’
      • ‘The cheese then enters a sea of brine salt solution for cooling.’
      • ‘We appreciate the flavorful food, recognizing in the candlelight the small, spicy leaves we snipped from a sea of greens that bright morning.’
      • ‘We just get new business parks surrounded by seas of cars and a trim of polite landscaping just like anywhere else.’
      expanse, stretch, span, area, tract, sweep, blanket, sheet, carpet, mass
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  • at sea

    • 1Sailing on the sea.

      • ‘Faces of sailors and their lost equipment are scattered throughout the waves, representing the men who died at sea.’
      • ‘When the building is lit at night, the glazing disappears, making the naked structure look like a platform at sea.’
      • ‘More explicitly, the building is an event on the horizon, like a ship at sea, with its assemblage of long white volumes rising out of a dense dark base clad in strips of charcoal-coloured slate.’
      • ‘Rescuers found the craftsman in his boat at sea, unharmed.’
      • ‘At the end of the video, the figure sets off in a small boat, apparently lost at sea in an inhospitable universe.’
      • ‘‘Our goal is to provide the safest, highest quality U.S.-produced dairy products to our troops anywhere, ground troops or ships at sea,’ he says.’
      • ‘‘Over time, the images evolved from ships in port to more elaborate ships at sea,’ said Freeman.’
      • ‘The final 7 percent were capable of processing their catch while at sea.’
      • ‘Ever since wooden ships were felled by storms at sea or robbed by pirates, successful businesses risked coming to grief crossing oceans.’
      • ‘White captives taken at sea and spirited away into harems were virtually synonymous with the infamy of the Regency of Algiers, and the subject became a staple of visual representation.’
      1. 1.1Confused or unable to decide what to do.
        ‘he feels at sea with economics’
        • ‘The structuring of the story is sometimes all at sea, but the tone of the show - a kind of loveable gruesomeness - is very appealing.’
        • ‘After barely one hundred lines, even the most astute and intrepid explorer is all at sea and gasping for air.’
        • ‘She appeared all at sea, with no script but her presence of mind to rely on.’
        • ‘She described how the first week they were all at sea, but in the second week they were soaking up the experience like sponges.’
        • ‘While Kerry were solid enough at the back, they were all at sea at midfield, while they never threatened down the wings and this was the most disappointing aspect of all.’
        • ‘This was a striking turnaround for a party that had been all at sea.’
        • ‘The gaeltacht side was all at sea (no pun intended) in an opening half dominated by the losers.’
        • ‘They are, in a phrase, all at sea and sinking fast.’
        • ‘As though that were not bad enough, we are now being told that our investment policy, which is momentous to any purposeful economic development, is all at sea.’
        • ‘Rather you want to throw out a lifeline to the subjects, who are clearly confused and all at sea.’
        confused, perplexed, puzzled, baffled, mystified, bemused, bewildered, nonplussed, disconcerted, disoriented, dumbfounded, at a loss, at sixes and sevens, adrift
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  • by sea

    • By means of a ship or ships.

      ‘other army units were sent by sea’
      • ‘Overseas visitors who arrived by sea had different characteristics than overseas visitors who arrived by air.’
      • ‘And so we went by sea to Lowestoft.’
      • ‘Londoners had been heating their houses with coal since the seventeenth century and this came by sea until the mid-nineteenth century, when the railways took over this trade.’
  • go to sea

    • 1Set out on a voyage.

      • ‘They certainly hooked him on sailing when he was a lad, and he's been going to sea in boats ever since.’
      • ‘It's like the Wise Men of Chelm going to sea with a sieve to collect water.’
      • ‘According to official statistics, there are about 24 pelagic vessels in Namibia, most of which have not been going to sea in the past three seasons following poor catches.’
      • ‘Our intrepid reporter goes to sea in pursuit of an edible, ethical and sustainable alternative - our native mackerel’
      • ‘Despite going to sea on a boat with no windows, no fantail, no helipad or even a hatch to allow in some tension-breaking fresh salt air, submariners are still Sailors at heart.’
      • ‘This meets the need for a consistent, repeatable and auditable process to assess the ship's material state before it goes to sea.’
      • ‘And fishing is more than just ships going to sea, it's all that happens down the industry all the way to the fish market, putting people out of business there.’
      • ‘Subject to the following provisions of this section, a crew agreement shall be carried in the ship to which it relates whenever the ship goes to sea.’
      • ‘‘The problem has been, when a ship goes to sea, the crew left behind doesn't have a platform to train on,’ said the Information Systems leading chief petty officer.’
      • ‘She placed her hand on the pirates shoulder and recalled the words to the prayer her brothers always said before going to sea.’
      • ‘It's my desire that when any craft goes to sea, it would be equipped with safety devices,’ the Minister said.’
      1. 1.1Become a sailor in a navy or a merchant navy.
        • ‘Their travels grew more exciting as they traveled further every day, as they were welcomed on any ship that went to sea.’
        • ‘He went to sea as a cabin boy and cook at the age of 9, and from 1880 worked as a fisherman in Cornwall.’
        • ‘I would recommend both to any person who is interested in going to sea or who will soon be reporting aboard that first Navy ship.’
        • ‘She plans to take over parenting responsibility for her daughter while her husband, who has been working ashore, goes to sea next year.’
        • ‘To have a Warrant as opposed to a Commission, as NAM Rodgers tells us, derives from the military and governing classes going to sea and therefore symbolised both a social and professional difference.’
        • ‘For the next decade, he went to sea on various voyages, the longest being several years.’
        • ‘Women have been going to sea in the RN for 14 years, so the prospect of a female commanding officer of a destroyer or frigate draws ever nearer.’
        • ‘This notion has undoubtedly partly arisen because of Doctor Johnson's famous observation that going to sea was akin to being in prison, with the added danger of drowning.’
        • ‘Phelps, who first went to sea as a cabin boy in 1816, worked from original journals and logbooks now mostly lost.’
        • ‘Even the people who go to sea and have a really bad time health-wise, say it was a good experience and they are looking forward to going to sea later.’
        • ‘And sailors going to sea would take a hot cross bun with them to guard against sickness’
  • on the sea

    • Situated on the coast.

      • ‘Today I was able to sleep in, and after lunch, I borrowed Bin's car and drove to Narbonne, a town on the sea.’
      • ‘Unless we can find a place on the sea, that takes pets, for the same price, we won't be moving.’
      • ‘Tulum was not a city but rather an outpost on the sea - it may have been a temple, and some suggest it also may have been an ancient lighthouse.’
  • put (out) to sea

    • Leave land on a voyage.

      • ‘In Camara de Lobos, where Winston Churchill spent his leisure time painting, I watched craggy fishermen putting out to sea in red, yellow and blue-striped boats that dot the horseshoe beach.’
      • ‘Fishing is still an important activity in the area and one can sit for hours watching fishermen putting out to sea in unfeasibly flimsy wooden craft.’
      • ‘I joined her in Kalkan for a cruise to Olympos, putting out to sea on a glorious October morning, the sun scorching hot on the scrubbed wooden deck and the water as blue as a kingfisher's back.’
      • ‘None of the planned projects is offshore, however, although in Europe, where suitable land is scarce, more and more projects are putting out to sea.’
      • ‘Can anyone imagine the Yankee traders of the 19th century allowing OSHA agents to inspect their clipper ships to inform them that their safety precautions for putting out to sea were not up to code?’
      • ‘‘Won't catch me putting out to sea with that berk,’ Dave said.’
      • ‘He puts to sea again and lands at Mytilene, where through Lysimachus and to his intense joy Pericles discovers his daughter.’
      set sail, put to sea, put out, put out to sea, leave port, leave dock, leave harbour, hoist sail, raise sail, weigh anchor, put off, shove off
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Old English sǣ, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zee and German See.