Body of water

A body of water or waterbody[1] (often spelled water body) is any significant accumulation of water, generally on a planet's surface. The term most often refers to oceans, seas, and lakes, but it includes smaller pools of water such as ponds, wetlands, or more rarely, puddles. A body of water does not have to be still or contained; rivers, streams, canals, and other geographical features where water moves from one place to another are also considered bodies of water.[2]

Most are naturally occurring geographical features, but some are artificial. There are types that can be either. For example, most reservoirs are created by engineering dams, but some natural lakes are used as reservoirs. Similarly, most harbors are naturally occurring bays, but some harbors have been created through construction.

Bodies of water that are navigable are known as waterways. Some bodies of water collect and move water, such as rivers and streams, and others primarily hold water, such as lakes and oceans.

The term body of water can also refer to a reservoir of water held by a plant, technically known as a phytotelma.

Bodies of water are affected by gravity which is what creates the tidal effects on Earth.[3]

Aubach (Wiehl) nahe des Weiherdamms in Wildbergerhütte
The Aubach (Wiehl) in Germany (Watercourse)


Canal Grande Chiesa della Salute e Dogana dal ponte dell Accademia
The Canal Grande in Venice, one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. View from the Accademia bridge.
Tagus River Panorama - Toledo, Spain - Dec 2006
A weir in Toledo, Spain. Weirs are frequently used to change the height of a riverlevel, prevent floddings, and measure water discharge.

Note that there are some geographical features involving water that are not bodies of water, for example waterfalls, geysers and rapids.

  • Arm of the sea – also sea arm, used to describe a sea loch.
  • Arroyo – (southwest US) (seasonal) a usually-dry bed of a steep-sided stream, gully, or narrow channel that temporarily fills with water after heavy rain. See also wadi.
  • Artificial lake or artificial pond – see Reservoir (impoundment).
  • Barachois – (Canada) a lagoon separated from the ocean by a sand bar.
  • Bay – an area of water bordered by land on three sides, similar to, but smaller than a gulf.
  • Bayou – (southern US) a slow-moving stream or a marshy lake.
  • Beck – (UK) a small stream (esp. with a rocky bottom); creek.[4][5]
  • Bight – a large and often only slightly receding bay, or a bend in any geographical feature.
  • Billabong – an oxbow lake in Australia; a pond or still body of water created when a river changes course and some water becomes trapped.
  • Boil – see Seep
  • Bourn – a brook; stream; small, seasonal stream.[6][7]
  • Brook – a small stream; a creek.[8]
  • Brooklet – a small brook.
  • Burn – (Scottish) a small stream; a brook.[9][10]
  • Canal – an artificial waterway, usually connected to (and sometimes connecting) existing lakes, rivers, or oceans.
  • Channel – the physical confine of a river, slough or ocean strait consisting of a bed and banks. See also stream bed and strait.
  • Cove – a coastal landform. Earth scientists generally use the term to describe a circular or round inlet with a narrow entrance, though colloquially the term is sometimes used to describe any sheltered bay.
  • Creek – (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States) a (narrow) stream that is smaller than a river; a minor tributary of a river; brook.[16]
  • Creek (tidal) – (mainly British) an inlet of the sea, narrower than a cove.[21]
  • Delta – the location where a river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, or reservoir.
  • Distributary or distributary channel – a stream that branches off and flows away from the main stream channel.
  • Drainage basin – a region of land where water from rain or snowmelt drains downhill into another body of water, such as a river, lake, or reservoir.
  • Draw – a usually dry creek bed or gulch that temporarily fills with water after a heavy rain, or seasonally. See also wadi.
  • Estuary – a semi-enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea
  • Firth – (Scottish) various coastal waters, such as large sea bays, estuaries, inlets, and straits.
  • Fjord (fiord) – a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes.[22]
  • Gill – (UK) a narrow stream or rivulet; brook; narrow mountain stream.[26]
  • Glacier – a large collection of ice or a frozen river that moves slowly down a mountain.
  • Glacial pothole – a giant's kettle
  • Gulf – a part of a lake or ocean that extends so that it is surrounded by land on three sides, similar to, but larger than a bay.
  • Headland – an area of water bordered by land on three sides.
  • Harbor – an artificial or naturally occurring body of water where ships are stored or may shelter from the ocean's weather and currents.
  • Impoundment – an artificially-created body of water, by damming a source. Often used for flood control, as a drinking water supply (reservoir), recreation, ornamentation (artificial pond), or other purpose or combination of purposes. Note that the process of creating an "impoundment" of water is itself called "impoundment."
  • Inlet – a body of water, usually seawater, which has characteristics of one or more of the following: bay, cove, estuary, firth, fjord, geo, sea loch, or sound.
  • Kettle (or kettle lake) – a shallow, sediment-filled body of water formed by retreating glaciers or draining floodwaters.
  • Kill – used in areas of Dutch influence in New York, New Jersey and other areas of the former New Netherland colony of Dutch America to describe a strait, river, or arm of the sea.
  • Lagoon – a body of comparatively shallow salt or brackish water separated from the deeper sea by a shallow or exposed sandbank, coral reef, or similar feature.
  • Lake – a body of water, usually freshwater, of relatively large size contained on a body of land.
  • Lick — a small watercourse or an ephemeral stream
  • Loch – (Scottish) a body of water such as a lake, sea inlet, firth, fjord, estuary or bay.
  • Mangrove swamp – Saline coastal habitat of mangrove trees and shrubs.
  • Marsh – a wetland featuring grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, and other herbaceous plants (possibly with low-growing woody plants) in a context of shallow water. See also Salt marsh.
  • Mediterranean sea (oceanography) – a mostly enclosed sea that has a limited exchange of deep water with outer oceans and where the water circulation is dominated by salinity and temperature differences rather than winds
  • Mere – a lake or body of water that is broad in relation to its depth.
  • Mill pond – a reservoir built to provide flowing water to a watermill
  • Moat – a deep, broad trench, either dry or filled with water, surrounding and protecting a structure, installation, or town.
  • Ocean – a major body of salty water that, in totality, covers about 71% of the Earth's surface.
  • Oxbow lake – a U-shaped lake formed when a wide meander from the mainstem of a river is cut off to create a lake.
  • Phytotelma – a small, discrete body of water held by some plants.
  • Pool – various small bodies of water such as a swimming pool, reflecting pool, pond, or puddle.
  • Pond – a body of water smaller than a lake, especially those of artificial origin.
  • Pothole – see Kettle
  • Puddle – a small accumulation of water on a surface, usually the ground.
  • Reservoir – a place to store water for various uses, especially drinking water, which can be a natural or artificial (see Lake and Impoundment above)
  • Rill – a shallow channel of running water. These can be either natural or man-made. Also: a very small brook; rivulet; small stream.[27][28]
  • River – a natural waterway usually formed by water derived from either precipitation or glacial meltwater, and flows from higher ground to lower ground.
  • Rivulet – (UK)(US literary) a small or very small stream.[29]
  • Roadstead – a place outside a harbor where a ship can lie at anchor; it is an enclosed area with an opening to the sea, narrower than a bay or gulf (often called a "roads").
  • Run – a small stream or part thereof, especially a smoothly flowing part of a stream.
  • Salt marsh – a type of marsh that is a transitional zone between land and an area, such as a slough, bay, or estuary, with salty or brackish water.
  • Sea – a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, or a large, usually saline, lake that lacks a natural outlet such as the Caspian Sea and the Dead Sea. In common usage, often synonymous with the ocean.
  • Sea loch – a sea inlet loch.
  • Sea lough – a fjord, estuary, bay or sea inlet.
  • Seep – a body of water formed by a spring.
  • Slough – several different meanings related to wetland or aquatic features.
  • Source – the original point from which the river or stream flows. A river's source is sometimes a spring.
  • Sound – a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land.
  • Spring – a point where groundwater flows out of the ground, and is thus where the aquifer surface meets the ground surface
  • Strait – a narrow channel of water that connects two larger bodies of water, and thus lies between two land masses.
  • Stream – a body of water with a detectable current, confined within a bed and banks.
  • Streamlet — a small stream; rivulet.[30]
  • Subglacial lake – a lake that is permanently covered by ice and whose water remains liquid by the pressure of the ice sheet and geothermal heating. They often occur under glaciers or ice caps. Lake Vostok in Antarctica is an example.
  • Swamp – a wetland that features permanent inundation of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water, generally with a substantial number of hummocks, or dry-land protrusions.
  • Tarn – a mountain lake or pool formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier.
  • Tide pool – a rocky pool adjacent to an ocean and filled with seawater.
  • Tributary or affluent – a stream or river that flows into the main stem (or parent) river or a lake.
  • Vernal pool – a shallow, natural depression in level ground, with no permanent above-ground outlet, that holds water seasonally.
  • Wadi – a usually-dry creek bed or gulch that temporarily fills with water after a heavy rain, or seasonally; located in North Africa and Western Asia. See also Arroyo (creek).
  • Wash – a usually dry creek bed or gulch that temporarily fills with water after a heavy rain, or seasonally. See also wadi.
  • Wetland – an environment "at the interface between truly terrestrial ecosystems and truly aquatic systems making them different from each yet highly dependent on both".[31]

See also




  1. ^ "waterbody noun (pl. -ies) a body of water forming a physiographical feature, for example a sea or a reservoir." New Oxford Dictionary of English
  2. ^ Langbein, W.B.; Iseri, Kathleen T. (1995). "Hydrologic Definitions: Stream". Manual of Hydrology: Part 1. General Surface-Water Techniques (Water Supply Paper 1541-A). Reston, VA: USGS..
  3. ^ "What causes high tide and low tide? Why are there two tides each day?". HowStuffWorks. 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2017-12-10.
  4. ^ "beck". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  5. ^ "beck". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  6. ^ "bourn". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  7. ^ "bourn". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  8. ^ "brook". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  9. ^ "burn". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  10. ^ "burn". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  11. ^ "creek". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 May 2019. British...especially an inlet...(whereas) NZ, North American, or minor tributary.
  12. ^ "(US) creek". English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 May 2019. North American, Australian, NZ...A stream, brook, or minor tributary of a river.
  13. ^ "creek"., LLC. Retrieved 18 May 2019. U.S., Canada , and Australia…a stream smaller than a river.
  14. ^ "creek". Collins. Collins. Retrieved 18 May 2019. US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand a small stream or tributary
  15. ^ "creek". Macmillan Dictionary. Springer Nature Limited. Retrieved 18 May 2019. a narrow stream
  16. ^ [11][12][13][14][15]
  17. ^ "creek". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 18 May 2019. British...especially an inlet
  18. ^ "creek"., LLC. Retrieved 18 May 2019. Chiefly Atlantic States and British...a recess or inlet in the shore of the sea.
  19. ^ "creek". Macmillan Dictionary. Springer Nature Limited. Retrieved 18 May 2019. BRITISH a long narrow area of ocean stretching into the land
  20. ^ "creek". Collins. Collins. Retrieved 18 May 2019. Chiefly British a narrow inlet or bay
  21. ^ [17][18][19][20]
  22. ^ "Definition of FJORD". Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  23. ^ "gill". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  24. ^ "gill". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  25. ^ "gill". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  26. ^ [23][24][25]
  27. ^ "rill". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  28. ^ "rill". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  29. ^ "rivulet". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  30. ^ "streamlet". Collins. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  31. ^ Mitsch & Gosselink, 1986
  32. ^ The first edition of Wetlands by Mitsch and Gosselink was published in 1986 by Van Nostrand Reinhold. Second, third, and fourth (current) editions were published in 1993, 2000, and 2007 respectively by John Wiley & Sons. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-07-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links


A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an ocean, a lake, or another bay. A large bay is usually called a gulf, sea, sound, or bight. A cove is a type of smaller bay with a circular inlet and narrow entrance. A fjord is a particularly steep bay shaped by glacial activity.

A bay can be the estuary of a river, such as the Chesapeake Bay, an estuary of the Susquehanna River. Bays may also be nested within each other; for example, James Bay is an arm of Hudson Bay in northeastern Canada. Some large bays, such as the Bay of Bengal and Hudson Bay, have varied marine geology.

The land surrounding a bay often reduces the strength of winds and blocks waves. Bays may have as wide a variety of shoreline characteristics as other shorelines. In some cases, bays have beaches, which "are usually characterized by a steep upper foreshore with a broad, flat fronting terrace". Bays were significant in the history of human settlement because they provided safe places for fishing. Later they were important in the development of sea trade as the safe anchorage they provide encouraged their selection as ports.

Budgewoi Lake

The Budgewoi Lake, a lagoon that is part of the Tuggerah Lakes, is located within the Central Coast Council local government area in the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia. The lake is located near the settlement of Budgewoi and is situated about 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Sydney.


Bukkehåmmårtjørna is a small lake in eastern Jotunheimen. This is the highest lake that

has been investigated as a climate archive in southern Norway, being situated 1594 m above sea level.

A small glacier, Bukkehåmmårbreen, is draining meltwater into the lake at present. This glacier reformed just short of 6,000 years ago following the Holocene climate optimum and has existed continuously since. After growing gradually towards 4,000 years before present (BP) the glacier has been of near present size over the last 4,000 years, growing slightly larger over the last 2-2,500 years.

Prior to the climate optimum and following the deglaciation the glacier melted some 10,000 years before present.

The flat valley-shoulder that the lake is eroded into is locally known as a "fly". This particular level at about 1600 m a.s.l. and is believed to have been formed between 100 and 85 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. Standing on the shore-line of Bukkehåmmårtjørna thus means that you are standing on the remnants of a landscape that the Dinosaurs ruled.

The small lake existed prior to the Last Glacial Maximum since it contains organic material older than 30,000 years old. Currently being reassessed, growing evidence now indicates that much of the landscape that can be seen from this site is practically unchanged since the age of the Mammoth who lived on the wide plateaus more than 40,000 years ago.

The view from the lake, or higher up on the mountain-peak Høgdebrotet therefore includes a view into the landscapes of the distant past, including the landscape of the dinosaurs, the pre-ice age landscape, the landscape of the Mammoth during the last glacial period. By squinting your eyes and imagining the present forest-limit below, located some 300 m higher than at present and by imagining the glaciers of Leirungsalpene being absent you can also see the landscape as it was 7,000 years ago.

Channel (geography)

In physical geography, a channel is a type of landform consisting of the outline of a path of relatively shallow and narrow body of fluid, most commonly the confine of a river, river delta or strait. The word is cognate to canal, and sometimes shows in this form, e.g. the Hood Canal.

Clifton Court Forebay

Clifton Court Forebay is a reservoir in the San Joaquin River Delta region of eastern Contra Costa County, California, 17 mi (27 km) southwest of Stockton. The estuary region the forebay is located in is only 1m to 3m above mean sea level.

Endeavour Strait

The Endeavour Strait is a strait running between the Australian mainland Cape York Peninsula and Prince of Wales Island in the extreme south of the Torres Strait, in northern Queensland, Australia. It was named in 1770 by explorer James Cook, after his own vessel, HMS Endeavour, and he used the strait as passage out to the Indian Ocean on his voyage.

Fish River (Maine)

The Fish River is a 69.9-mile-long (112.5 km) river in northern Maine in the United States. It is a tributary of the Saint John River, which flows to the Bay of Fundy (an arm of the Atlantic Ocean) in New Brunswick, Canada.

From its start at the confluence of Fox Brook and Carr Pond Stream (46°46′37″N 68°46′52″W), in Maine Township 13, Range 8, WELS, the river runs north to Fish River Lake, then east to Portage Lake. It then runs northwards through St. Froid Lake and Eagle Lake to the Saint John River at Fort Kent. The latter section is roughly parallel to Maine State Route 11.

Inflow (hydrology)

In hydrology, the inflow of a body of water is the source of the water in the body of water. It can also refer to the average volume of incoming water in unit time. It is contrasted with outflow.


A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by barrier islands or reefs. Lagoons are commonly divided into coastal lagoons and atoll lagoons. They have also been identified as occurring on mixed-sand and gravel coastlines. There is an overlap between bodies of water classified as coastal lagoons and bodies of water classified as estuaries. Lagoons are common coastal features around many parts of the world.

Little Androscoggin River

The Little Androscoggin River is a 51.4-mile-long (82.7 km) river in Maine. It flows from Bryant Pond in Woodstock (44°21′53″N 70°38′18″W) to its confluence with the Androscoggin River in Auburn. The Androscoggin flows into Merrymeeting Bay in the Kennebec River estuary.

The Little Androscoggin flows through the towns of Woodstock, Greenwood, West Paris, Paris (including the village of South Paris), Norway, Oxford, Mechanic Falls, Minot, and Poland, and the city of Auburn.

Lost Lake (Groton)

Lost Lake also known as Knop/p/s Pond is a reservoir in Groton, Massachusetts, United States. It was formed from three lakes by the headwaters of Salmon Brook. The southern part of the lake is known as Knops Pond where it is near 30 feet deep. It is stocked with rainbow, brown and brook trout every spring and fall and is home to several species of warm water fish. There is also a boat launch located on the northeastern side of the lake.

Magalloway River

The Magalloway River is a river in northwestern Maine and northern New Hampshire in the United States. It is a tributary of the Androscoggin River, which flows to the Kennebec River at Merrymeeting Bay in Maine, near the Atlantic Ocean. The total length of the river is 30 miles (48 km), or 48 miles (77 km) if the distances across intervening lakes are included.

The Magalloway River rises near the extreme northwestern corner of Maine, at the juncture of the West Branch and the Second East Branch of the Magalloway. The river flows south through logging country to 2.5-mile (4.0 km)-long Parmachenee Lake, then descends for another 2.6 miles (4.2 km) to the 15-mile (24 km)-long Aziscohos Lake. Below the lake dam, the Magalloway turns west and descends 250 feet (76 m) in 2 miles (3.2 km) to the village of Wilsons Mills, Maine, before once again turning south, now along the New Hampshire-Maine border. The river ends where it joins the outlet of Umbagog Lake, forming the Androscoggin River.

Tributaries of the Magalloway include the West Branch, the Second East Branch, the First East Branch, the Little Magalloway River, and the Dead Diamond River. The Magalloway passes through the townships of Parmachenee, Lynchtown, Parkertown, Lincoln, and Magalloway Plantation in Maine, and the townships of Second College Grant and Wentworth's Location in New Hampshire.

Its name is from some Native American language, meaning "large tail".

Moxie Falls

Moxie Falls is a waterfall in Somerset County, Maine. At a vertical drop of over 90 feet (30 m) into a pool about 17 feet (5 m) deep, Moxie Falls is one of the highest falls in New England. The falls are part of Moxie Stream which flows from Moxie Pond into the Kennebec River approximately 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) downstream the falls. Moxie Stream drains Moxie Pond approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) upstream of the falls.

The hiking trail to Moxie Falls is approximately 0.5 miles with a boardwalk for viewing the falls at the end. There are several pools for swimming upstream of the falls.


A peninsula (Latin: paeninsula from paene "almost” and insula "island") is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, fork, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the (almost closed) loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Salt lake

A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water that has a concentration of salts (typically sodium chloride) and other dissolved minerals significantly higher than most lakes (often defined as at least three grams of salt per litre). In some cases, salt lakes have a higher concentration of salt than sea water; such lakes can also be termed hypersaline lakes. An alkalic salt lake that has a high content of carbonate is sometimes termed a soda lake.

Saline lake classification:

subsaline 0.5–3 ‰

hyposaline 3–20 ‰

mesosaline 20–50 ‰

hypersaline greater than 50 ‰

Sebec River

The Sebec River is a tributary of the Piscataquis River in Piscataquis County, Maine. From the outflow of Sebec Lake (45°16′13″N 69°06′54″W) in Sebec, the river runs 10.0 miles (16.1 km) east and southeast to its confluence with the Piscataquis in Milo.


In oceanography, geomorphology, and earth sciences, a shoal is a natural submerged ridge, bank, or bar that consists of, or is covered by, sand or other unconsolidated material, and rises from the bed of a body of water to near the surface. Often it refers to those submerged ridges, banks, or bars that rise near enough to the surface of a body of water as to constitute a danger to navigation. Shoals are also known as sandbanks, sandbars, or gravelbars. Two or more shoals that are either separated by shared troughs or interconnected by past or present sedimentary and hydrographic processes are referred to as a shoal complex.The term shoal is also used in a number of ways that can be either similar or quite different from how it is used in the geologic, geomorphic, and oceanographic literature. Sometimes, this terms refers to either any relatively shallow place in a stream, lake, sea, or other body of water; a rocky area on the sea floor within an area mapped for navigation purposes; a growth of vegetation on the bottom of a deep lake that occurs at any depth; and as a verb for the process of proceeding from a greater to a lesser depth of water.


A shore or a shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In physical oceanography, a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past and present, while the beach is at the edge of the shore, representing the intertidal zone where there is one. In contrast to a coast, a shore can border any body of water, while the coast must border an ocean; in that sense a coast is a type of shore; however, coast often refers to an area far wider than the shore, often stretching miles into the interior.

Shores are influenced by the topography of the surrounding landscape, as well as by water induced erosion, such as waves. The geological composition of rock and soil dictates the type of shore which is created.

Sound (geography)

In geography, a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet, deeper than a bight and wider than a fjord; or a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait).There is little consistency in the use of "sound" in English-language place names.


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