Body of water

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The Aubach, a watercourse in Germany Aubach (Wiehl) nahe dem Weiherdamm in Wildbergerhutte.jpg
The Aubach, a watercourse in Germany
A fjord (Lysefjord) in Norway Lysefjorden fjord.jpg
A fjord (Lysefjord) in Norway

A body of water or waterbody [1] (often water body) is any significant accumulation of water on the surface of Earth or another planet. 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.

Bodies of water are affected by gravity, which is what creates the tidal effects. [3] Moreso, the impact of climate change on water is likely to intensify as observed through the rising sea levels, water acidification and flooding. This means that climate change has pressure on water bodies. [4]


Bodies of water can be categorized into:

  1. Rain water
  2. Surface water
  3. Underground water

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

Description of main types of bodies of water
Allt Stream Scottish Highlands [ citation needed ]
Arm of the sea also sea-arm, used to describe a sea loch.
Arroyo A usually-dry bed of a steep-sided stream, gully, or narrow channel that temporarily fills with water after heavy rain. See also wadi.Southwest US
Artificial lake or artificial pond see reservoir (impoundment).
Barachois A lagoon separated from the ocean by a sand bar.Canada
Bay An area of water bordered by land on three sides, similar to, but smaller than a gulf.
Bayou A slow-moving stream or a marshy lake.Southern US
Beck (stream) or Beck (gill)A small stream (esp. with a rocky bottom); creek. [5] Lincolnshire to Cumbria in areas which were once occupied by the Danes and Norwegians. [6]
Bight A large and often only slightly receding bay, or a bend in any geographical feature.
Billabong an oxbow lake; a pond or still body of water created when a river changes course and some water becomes trapped.Located in Australia
Boilsee seep
Bog a type of wetland that accumulates peat due to incomplete decomposition of plant matter.
Bourne or Winterbourne a brook; stream; small, seasonal stream. [7] [8] Chalk downland of southern England
Broad A stationary inland body of fresh waterNorfolk and Suffolk area; cf. The Broads
Brook A small stream; a creek. [9] [10]
BrookletA small brook.
Burn A small stream; a brook. [11] [12] Scotland and North East England. [13]
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 a (narrow) stream that is smaller than a river; a minor tributary of a river; brook. [19] Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States
Creek (tidal) an inlet of the sea, narrower than a cove. [24] Mainly British
Dam A dam is a barrier that stops or restricts the flow of surface water or underground streams, or water reservoir resulting from placing such a structure.
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.
Dyke (UK)Either a narrow artificial channel off a river or broad for access or mooring, or a ditch (a water-filled drainage trench); not to be confused with Dyke (embankment) Used in The Broads
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 Various coastal waters, such as large sea bays, estuaries, inlets, and straits.Scottish
Fjord (fiord)a narrow inlet of the sea between cliffs or steep slopes. [25] Scandinavian
Gill or Ghylla narrow stream or rivulet; brook; narrow mountain stream. [29] The north of England and Kent and Surrey influenced by Old Norse; The variant "ghyll" is used in the Lake District and appears to have been an invention of William Wordsworth. [30]
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.
Harbor an artificial or naturally occurring body of water where ships are stored or may shelter from the ocean's weather and currents.
Hot spring a spring produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater.
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. The process of creating an "impoundment" of water is itself called "impoundment."
Ice cap A body of frozen water less than 50,000 km2 not constrained by topographical features (i.e., they will lie over the top of mountains)
Ice field A body of frozen water constrained by topographical features
Ice sheet A body of frozen water more than 50,000 km2
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 a strait, river, or arm of the sea.used in areas of Dutch influence in New York, New Jersey and other areas of the former New Netherland colony of Dutch America
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 a body of water such as a lake, sea inlet, firth, fjord, estuary or bay.Scottish
Mangrove swamp a 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.
Mud puddle
NantStreamWales. [31]
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.
Plunge pool a depression at the base of a waterfall.
Poolvarious 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.
Port a maritime facility where ships may dock to load and discharge passengers and cargo.
Pothole see kettle
Puddle a small accumulation of water on a surface, usually the ground.
Reflecting pool a water feature usually consisting of a shallow pool of water, undisturbed by fountain jets, for a reflective surface.
Reservoir a place to store water for various uses, especially drinking water, which can be a natural or artificial (see lake and impoundment).
Rill a shallow channel of running water. These can be either natural or human-made. Also: a very small brook; rivulet; small stream. [32] [33]
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. [34] Victorian era publications. [35]
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.
Shoal 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.
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.
Stream pool a stretch of a river or stream in which the water is relatively deep and slow moving.
Streamlet a small stream; rivulet. [36]
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.
Syke [37] Stream Scottish Lowlands and Cumbria
Swimming pool an artificial container filled with water intended for swimming.
Tank(or stock tank, Texas) an artificial pond, usually for watering cattle or other livestock. [38]
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 affluenta 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 seasonallyLocated 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". [39]

Classification of main types of bodies of water
NameRunning/Stationary/WetlandRunning: Ephemeral/Perennial
Stationary: Coastal/non-coastal
Allt Running
Arm of the sea StationaryCoastal
Arroyo RunningEphemeral (seasonal)
Artificial lake or artificial pond Stationary
Barachois StationaryCoastal
Basin Stationary
Bay StationaryCoastal
Bayou Wetland
Beck (stream) or Beck (gill)Running
Bight StationaryCoastal
Billabong Stationary
Bog Stationary
Bourne or Winterbourne RunningEphemeral [40] When permanent, they are chalk streams .
Broad Stationary
Brook Running
Burn Running
Cove StationaryCoastal
Creek Running
Creek (tidal)
Dam Stationary
Delta Coastal
Distributary or distributary channel Running
Drainage basin
Draw RunningEphemeral
Dyke (UK)Stationary
Estuary Coastal
Firth StationaryCoastal
Fjord (fiord)StationaryCoastal
Gill or GhyllRunning
Glacier Technically running
Glacial pothole Stationary
Gulf StationaryCoastal
Harbor Stationary
Hot spring Running
Impoundment Stationary
Ice cap
Ice field Stationary
Ice sheet
Inlet StationaryCoastal
Kettle (or kettle lake)Stationary
Lagoon Stationary
Lake Stationary
Lick Stationary
Loch Stationary
Mangrove swamp Stationary
Marsh Wetland
Mediterranean sea (oceanography) Stationary
Mere Stationary
Mill pond Stationary
Moat Stationary
Mud puddle Stationary
Ocean Stationary
Oxbow lake Stationary
Plunge pool Stationary
Pond Stationary
Port Stationary
Pothole Stationary
Puddle Stationary
Reflecting pool Stationary
Reservoir Stationary
Rill Running
River Running
Rivulet Running
Roadstead Stationary
Run Running
Salt marsh Stationary
Sea Stationary
Sea loch StationaryCoastal
Sea lough StationaryCoastal
Seep Stationary
Slough Stationary
Source Running
Sound StationaryCoastal
Spring Running
Strait Stationary
Stream Running
Stream pool Stationary
Streamlet Running
Subglacial lake Stationary
Swamp Wetland
Syke [41] RunningSeasonal
Swimming pool Stationary
Tarn Stationary
Tide pool Stationary
Tributary or affluentRunning
Vernal pool Wetland
Wadi RunningEphemeral
Wash RunningEphemeral
Wetland Wetland
Canal Grande Chiesa della Salute e Dogana dal ponte dell Accademia.jpg
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.jpg
A weir in Toledo, Spain. Weirs are frequently used to change the height of a riverlevel, prevent floodings, and measure water discharge.

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  16. "creek"., LLC. Retrieved 18 May 2019. U.S., Canada , and Australia…a stream smaller than a river.
  17. "creek". Collins. Collins. Retrieved 18 May 2019. US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand a small stream or tributary
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  19. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]
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