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I've come across the term "Ocean Sea" and wonder what it means, especially compared to simpler terms like "ocean" or "sea"? Is this a recognized term in English, either current or historical?

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We need more context, Joe. What gave you the impression that "ocean sea" is a valid term, i.e. where did you see it used? –  Marthaª Dec 7 '12 at 0:34
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The title awarded to Christopher Columbus. English translation is: "Admiral of the Ocean Sea". –  GEdgar Dec 7 '12 at 1:37
    
+1 @Marthaª & 3 others: english.stackexchange.com/a/93531/14666 –  Kris Dec 7 '12 at 8:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 41 down vote accepted

The Romans recognized two major seas: the mare mediterraneum or “sea in the middle of the earth”, and the mare oceanum, or “Sea of Oceanus” — Okeanos being the Greek name for and personification of the great “river” believed to encircle the earth.

In English, mare oceanus was translated Ocean Sea, as opposed to the Mediterranean Sea, and it was only about 1650 (according to the OED, volume 7, online here) that ocean started to appear alone as a noun designating the vast outer water, so much greater than mere local seas.

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+1: Good answer. –  Robusto Dec 7 '12 at 1:26

I've seen this term used as a title for the Atlantic Ocean before the time of Columbus.

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While your answer appears to be correct, it has already been given above, with additional information. When answering questions, you should first check to see whether somebody else has already posted what you're about to write. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 31 '13 at 0:04

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