Vocabulary and phrases for World Oceans Day

Vocabulary and phrases for World Oceans DayJune 8, 2023 is World Oceans Day. This special day is dedicated to the incredible beauty and importance of our oceans. Did you know oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface? And that oceans are home to 94% of all life on Earth? Let’s jump into the fascinating world of ocean vocabulary and phrases for World Oceans Day 2023!

Water bodies   


Freshwater is a water body that contains very little salt, or no salt at all. 

  • Lakes are large bodies of water surrounded by land. They can range in size from small ponds to massive lakes like the Caspian Sea, which is actually the largest lake in the world. 
  • Rivers are flowing bodies of water that usually start from mountains or highlands and make their way to the sea. They provide freshwater for many communities and serve as important transportation routes. 
  • Wetlands are areas where the land is covered with water for most of the year. These habitats are crucial for various species and play an important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. 
  • Ponds are smaller bodies of water, often found in parks or countryside areas. They are usually shallow.
  • Streams are narrow and fast-moving bodies of water that flow into rivers.
  • A creek is a narrow, shallow waterway that is often found in hilly or forested areas. It is a small stream that often flows into a larger body of water, such as a river or lake. Creeks can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments. Freshwater creeks are usually seen in woodlands or areas with mountains, while saltwater creeks can be found in coastal areas.

Salt water

Salt water is a type of water that contains a significant amount of salt, which means you cannot drink it. The largest saltwater body is the ocean. 

  • Oceans are very big and full of life, including colourful coral reefs, magnificent whales, and countless fish species. Some of the major oceans include the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean.
  • Seas are also saltwater bodies, but they are smaller than oceans and enclosed by land in one or some parts. Examples of seas include the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea and the Red Sea. 
  • There are also some saltwater lakes, such as the Great Salt Lake in the United States.
  • A bay is a body of water that is partly enclosed by land, which opens up to a larger body of water, such as an ocean or sea. Bays can vary in size and shape. They can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
  • A gulf is a large body of water that is partially surrounded by land, with a narrow opening connecting it to a larger body of water. Gulfs are usually larger than bays. Some well-known examples of gulfs include the Gulf of Mexico and the Persian Gulf.

The importance of the oceans 

Oceans play an important role in many areas of our lives. 

  1. Oceans provide us with various jobs and industries, for example: tourism, fishing, shipping, and sport. Fishing provides a livelihood for millions of people worldwide and is a significant source of food for many communities. Sports such as scuba diving and surfing are enjoyed by millions of people around the world, whether watching or participating. 
  2. Oceans act as climate regulators, absorbing and storing large amounts of heat, which helps to regulate global temperatures. They also generate a substantial portion of the oxygen we breathe. 
  3. Oceans are used as a source of renewable energy through technologies like tidal power and offshore wind farms. 
  4. They can be a very important source of freshwater in some regions, by removing the salt from the water so it is drinkable.

To celebrate World Oceans Day 2023, think about all the language and expressions you know related to oceans and the water. For example, ‘there are plenty more fish in the sea’. Have you heard this expression before? What do you think it means? Check your answer below, then share any other expressions you know using the hashtag #worldoceansday.

For other vocabulary and phrases to use when talking about the environment, read our World Environment Day blog post.


Match the word to the correct definition. 

  1. Wetland
  2. A stream
  3. A bay 
  4. A lake 
  5. Creek
  6. A pond
  7. Sea
  8. A gulf
    1. Both freshwater and saltwater. Partly enclosed by land, but opens up to an ocean or sea. 
    2. A large body of water that is partially surrounded by land. It connects to a larger body of water. Mexico and Persian are examples. 
    3. A large freshwater area surrounded by land. 
    4. The Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Red are examples. 
    5. An area that is covered in water for most of the year. 
    6. A freshwater area which is not very deep. It is often found near forests or hills. 
    7. A small area of freshwater often in parks or gardens. 
    8. A narrow body of water that flows into a river. 


  1. E
  2. H
  3. A
  4. C
  5. F
  6. G
  7. D
  8. B

Plenty more fish in the sea means that there are many people in the world that a person could have a romantic relationship with. It is often used as something a person says when a relationship doesn’t work out. 

The world is your oyster means you can do anything you want to do, and you can take the opportunities life offers you.

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

Every year we help millions of people around the world to learn English. As a department of the University of Oxford, we further the University’s objective of excellence in education by publishing proven and tested language learning books, eBooks, learning materials, and educational technologies.

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