I'm looking for a one-word opposite of "submerged". The context is a study where I'm looking into species that live below the surface and thus can be conveniently labeled as "Submerged" in my plot. However I can't find a good word to describe those found living on the surface (of a peat bog).

Emerged or surficial(?) comes to mind but since I'm not a native speaker I'm not too sure that I can use it that way.

  • 1
    You might find this source useful, though the only reasonable antonym of 'submerged' is probably 'non-submerged'. Organisms living on the surface would simply be labelled surface organisms. Feb 6, 2017 at 10:53
  • @NVZ I'm pretty sure it hasn't converted from a noun modifier as yet. Feb 6, 2017 at 11:20
  • If you want to talk about the critters living on the peat bog from the point of view of the critters living below the surface, here are some ideas: air creatures, superterranean creatures (I made that up, based on subterranean), overwater creatures (I made that up, based on underwater), turf creatures (living in the turf, or the short grass), above-surface creatures, beyond-the-edge creatures, other-side creatures, over-the-bog creatures, on-bog creatures, over-bog creatures, overbog creatures. Feb 7, 2017 at 6:30
  • You could stretch the use of "surfactants" for some comical relief. Any chemists in the audience?
    – user22542
    Mar 1, 2019 at 11:01

9 Answers 9


The word Turf animals or Turf could be used to describe something that is related to Ground/Land. Apart from Turf, Terra-firma could be used which means Ground.

  • This works great for me! I'm now using the term "Lawn" to describe the animals living near or on the surface. Turf pointed me in the right direction.
    – Horst
    Feb 8, 2017 at 11:15
  • I recommend against this. "Lawn" has a strong connotation for a home's yard space, whether front or back yard. Look up "lawn care" to see this.
    – Steve
    Aug 10, 2022 at 17:24

Perhaps "afloat" would do, though its colloquial hue may not fit well in a scientific study.

  • 1
    +1 Maybe also floating for attributive rather than predicative use.
    – 1006a
    Feb 6, 2017 at 18:04
  • Yes, "floating" would definitely do better than "afloat" in the context. Perhaps Horst can be more specific about how much not-submerged the concerned flora or fauna is (soaked but breathing air, just its lower part wet, nearly dry on a water lily or whatnot)
    – user218421
    Feb 6, 2017 at 18:31
  • Afloat doesn't quite fit since the animals are living on the sphagnum plants and are not really floating. Rather clinging to the plants.
    – Horst
    Feb 8, 2017 at 11:16
  • Hmm, then all I can think of is "on water's edge" - soaked or relatively dry according to the whims of the weather. But you were looking for an adjective, weren't you?
    – user218421
    Feb 8, 2017 at 20:23
  • Sorry to see you deleted your account Chiron, you made some good contributions.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 13, 2017 at 8:50

Try surface, as in surface creatures. -- Cambridge

adj. 1. working or operating on the top of the land or sea, rather than under the land or sea, or by air

Or maybe, surfaced, as opposed to submerged -- ODO

adj. 2. Having risen or come up to the surface of the water or the ground
"A gull will land on the back of a surfaced whale and rip at its flesh and blubber."

  • 1
    Perhaps surface-dwellers. Feb 6, 2017 at 11:20

I am not sure if it suits your purpose but 'emergent' could work better than emerged.

Superficial also means 'on or at the surface' but has the drawback of commonly being used to mean 'insignificant'.

  • Hello @Symone Atherton, welcome to English Language & Usage. Thanks for the response, but please read the question carefully when answering. The questioner mentioned surficial [sic], not superficial. Thanks!
    – freeling10
    Feb 17, 2017 at 3:35
  • Thanks for the welcome @freeling10 I did read the question and was offering the word superficial because it means 'being at, on, or near the surface' in opposition to submerged. Feb 17, 2017 at 10:54
  • Gotcha, @Symone Atherton. Thank you for the clarification and apologies for my incorrect assumption!
    – freeling10
    Feb 17, 2017 at 10:59

I would suggest intertidal fauna.

The shallowest marine environments are those forming the transition between land and sea, and include intertidal habitats that are regularly exposed to air. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/intertidal-ecology

  • Use citations in answers, if you please.
    – lbf
    Mar 27, 2018 at 18:05
  • Sorry. I'm not sure I know how to use citations. This is it, anyway: The shallowest marine environments are those forming the transition between land and sea, and include intertidal habitats that are regularly exposed to air.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/… Mar 27, 2018 at 18:11
  • edit that citation into your answer if you will. go to help section: editing and citations if you need to.
    – lbf
    Mar 27, 2018 at 18:16

Unsubmerged isn't a word but might work in your story. After all, unburrow isn't a word, but even after 20 years of use in the Starcraft universe few have noticed.

I'm also finding that nonsubmerged is used often in the medical field, however, they sometimes hyphenate it into a phrase: non-submerged.


Perhaps you would like the rather rare term subaerial. This term is used chiefly in geology and botany, but I think could stretch to biology, as well. From Oxford Dictionaries:

Existing, occurring, or formed in the open air or on the earth's surface, not under water or underground

Notably, this term is used in opposition with subaqueous, submarine, and submerged, as in this quote from Wikipedia:

Some pond plants have subaerial leaves as well as their submerged ones (water plantain, flowering rush,...).


I first looked at "superficial" but that had too many other meanings that would be distractive. I came across "external" and "exterior" which might be useful to describe the fauna that dwell in the non-submerged aspect of a bog environment.




“Emersed”. It means to have something that is normally fully submerged to be out of water. Typically used to describe aquatic plants, but can be used for other subjects as well.

  • This would be improved with a supporting dictionary link for the definition. Aug 10, 2022 at 16:34

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