Just like bank in "bank of the river", I want a word for an ocean's bank. I don't like "bank of the ocean" -- so is there any better word?

I am writing a literary essay -- and in that article, by "bank of the ocean", I mean happiness compared to an ocean of sorrows and misery.

  • 8
    Shore, shoreline, beach? – Ste Aug 15 '12 at 13:06
  • 4
    Shore is a distinct possibility. Perhaps coast. In this case, some context might help: how do you intend to use the word? – Andrew Leach Aug 15 '12 at 13:08
  • Having now read your context I would suggest "the safety of the shoreline" or words along those lines. People who are "trapped" in (or on) the ocean will certainly be heading for shore. – Ste Aug 15 '12 at 13:19
  • An island of happiness in an ocean of sorrows and misery? – fixer1234 Jun 12 '17 at 2:40

It's not idiomatic to say the "bank of an ocean", only of a river or stream, but the word is used to describe one aspect of the ocean: "a broad elevation of the sea floor around which the water is relatively shallow but not a hazard to surface navigation." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bank

Thesaurus.com says, for example: http://thesaurus.com/browse/strand?s=b "strand "noun "Definition: sandy area by body of water "Synonyms: bank, coast, lakeshore, lakeside, littoral, margin, oceanfront, seaboard, seafront, seashore, seaside, shingle, shore, strand , waterfront"

  • This is true, but the O.P. wouldn't want to use the word "bank" for when "shore" would be a more suitable word. As a side note, I know some people who work here. – J.R. Aug 15 '12 at 14:09
  • From one of my favorite songs: "Let us go to the banks of the ocean". chivalry.com/cantaria/lyrics/dutchman.html – MetaEd Aug 16 '12 at 1:34
  • J.R.: I don't understand why sentence 1 is there. It expresses a truism I didn't deny. The 2nd half of the definition I quoted points out how "bank" is used to describe one aspect of the ocean. Therefore, I don't understand why sentence 2 is there. – user21497 Aug 16 '12 at 5:08
  • ΜετάEd: One instance of a usage doesn't make it idiomatic, does it? I've seen verse and song lyrics that use the structure "for to VERB" (can't find one right now, sorry) and assume that it's merely poetic license. And it's clear that English native-speakers are willing to say anything and claim that it's correct just because they're native speakers. – user21497 Aug 16 '12 at 5:09

Besides shore, shoreline, beach, coast as mentioned in comments, plage is often used, and I have sometimes seen margin for land along a coastline. More specific terms like landfall, bayside, or shallows might work too (the latter for ocean near a shore).

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    I've never heard 'plage' used in English, even as a borrowing. – Mitch Aug 15 '12 at 13:28
  • @Mitch: Both as a Dutch and English speaker, I have only heard it used when referencing a specific French beach (since "plage" is French for "beach"). Similarly, "Riviera" (Italian for "coastline") is still used when referencing either the Italian Riviera or French Riviera. – Flater Jun 12 '17 at 12:07

In addition to the shore, beach and coast related suggestions, the term strand is sometimes used, but it is not very common in US usage. Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines it as

the shore of a sea, lake, or large river

The term banks is used to refer to certain sections of ocean that are actually shallow water, such as the Grand Banks and the Georges Banks.

If you are interested in shallow water areas of ocean near the shore, the term shoals might be of interest. Collins defines it as

1.a stretch of shallow water

2.a sandbank or rocky area in a stretch of water, esp one that is visible at low water

  • Tangentially, "strand" is the Dutch word for "beach". – Flater Jun 12 '17 at 12:05

Beach, shore, shoreline, coast, coastline, embankment, etc., depending on its context and appearance.

In Daffodils, Wordsworth said...

along the margin of a bay

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