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The sea.


From Middle English see, from Old English (sea, lake), from Proto-Germanic *saiwiz (compare West Frisian see, Dutch zee, German See, Norwegian Bokmål sjø, Swedish sjö), probably either from Proto-Indo-European *sh₂ey-wo- 'to be fierce, afflict' (compare Latin saevus (wild, fierce), Tocharian saiwe (itch), Latvian sievs, sīvs (sharp, biting); more at sore)[1] or derived from *sīhwaną (to percolate, filter), in which case *saiwiz is from earlier *saigwiz, Pre-Germanic *soykʷ-ís.[2]


  • enPR: , IPA(key): /siː/
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sea (plural seas)

  1. A large body of salt water.
    1. The ocean; the continuous body of salt water covering a majority of the Earth's surface.
      • 1611, King James Bible, Leviticus 11:9
        These shal ye eat, of all that are in the waters: whatsoeuer hath finnes and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the riuers, them shall ye eate.
      • 1719, Nicholas Rowe, “Book V”, in Lucan's Pharsalia: Translated into English Verse, Dublin: James Carson, page 183:
        At length the universal Wreck appear'd,/ To Cæsar's self, ev'n worthy to be fear'd./ Why all these Pains, this Toil of Fate (he cries)/ This Labour of the Seas, and Earth, and Skies?/ All Nature, and the Gods at once alarm'd,/ Against my little Boat and me are arm'd.
      • 1833, William Hazlitt, “Notes of a Journey Through France and Italy”, in Greenbank's Periodical Library, volume I, page 173:
        There is something in being near the sea, like the confines of eternity. It is a new element, a pure abstraction. The mind loves to hover on that which is endless, and forever the same. People wonder at a steam-boat, the invention of man, managed by man, that makes its liquid path like an iron railway through the sea—I wonder at the sea itself, that vast Leviathan, rolled round the earth, smiling in its sleep, waked into fury, fathomless, boundless, a huge world of water-drops.—Whence is it, whither goes it, is it of eternity, or of nothing?
      • 1922 March, J. S. Fletcher, “The Mystery of Ravensdene Court”, in Everybody's Magazine, volume XLVI, number 3, page 162:
        As we stood there watching, the long yellow light on the eastern horizon suddenly changed in color—first to a roseate flush, then to a warm crimson; the scenes round us, sky, sea, and land, brightened as if by magic.
    2. A body of salt water smaller than an ocean, generally forming part of, or connecting with, an ocean or a larger sea.
      The Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the Sea of Crete, etc.
  2. A lake, especially if large or if salty or brackish.
    The Caspian Sea, the Sea of Galilee, the Salton Sea, etc.
  3. The swell of the sea; a single wave; billow.
    • 1792, chapter 2, in A Voyage to the South Sea, London: Nicol, page 14:
      One sea broke away the spare yards and spars out of the starboard main chains. Another heavy sea broke into the ship and stove all the boats. Several casks of bear, that had been lashed upon deck, were broke loose and washed overboard, and it was not without great difficulty and risk that we were able to secure the boats from being washed away entirely.
    • 1952, Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea:
      There was a small sea rising with the wind coming up from the east and at noon the old man's left hand was uncramped.
  4. (attributive, in combination) Living or used in or on the sea; of, near, or like the sea.
    Seaman, sea gauge, sea monster, sea horse, sea level, seaworthy, seaport, seaboard, etc.
  5. (figuratively) Anything resembling the vastness or turbulence of the sea.
    • 1604, William Shakespeare, The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke[1], London: Nicholas Ling:
      To be, or not to be, that is the question,/ Whether tis nobler in the minde to suffer/ The slings and arrowes of outragious fortune,/ Or to take Armes against a sea of troubles,/ And by opposing, end them, to die to sleepe/ No more, and by a sleepe, to say we end/ The hart-ake, and the thousand naturall shocks/ That flesh is heire to.
    • 2013 April 9, Andrei Lankov, “Stay Cool. Call North Korea’s Bluff.”, in New York Times[2]:
      In the last two decades, North Korea has on various occasions conducted highly provocative missile and nuclear tests and promised to turn Seoul into a sea of fire.
  6. (planetology) A large, dark plain of rock; a mare.
    The Apollo 11 mission landed in the Sea of Tranquility.
  7. (planetology) A very large lake of liquid hydrocarbon.


  • the ogin (UK, nautical and navy)

Derived termsEdit

Names of seas
Terms derived from sea (other)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Vladimir Orel, A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, s.v. "saiwiz" (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2003), 314.
  2. ^ Kroonen, Guus (2013) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill

Further readingEdit




is + ea (literally, "it is")



  1. yes (to copula questions)
  2. right, well (topic introducer)

Usage notesEdit

This is a contraction of an affirmative response to a question, and is found in response to questions where the key verb is is or a present tense form thereof:

Q: An féidir leat cuidiú liom? — "Can you help me?" (literally, "Possible for you to help me?")
A: Sea. — "Yes."

Informally it may also be found as the answer to a question with a main verb, though this is considered incorrect. The standard response to such a question is to repeat the verb:

Q: Ar chuala tú mé? — "Did you hear me?"
A: Chuala. — "Yes" (literally, "Heard") or informally Sea.


Middle EnglishEdit


From Old English .



  1. Alternative form of see (sea)


Old IrishEdit



  1. Alternative spelling of so

Old SwedishEdit





  1. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of ser.
  2. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of ser.
  3. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of ser.
  4. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of ser.

See alsoEdit