Origin of Sea Names

Reference work entry


Seas, gulfs, bays, and oceans have been named since antiquity – for the destinations they led to, for the shores they washed, for their own marine characteristics, or for their explorers. It has been an ongoing process, with the demarcation and naming of the Southern Ocean as the most recent addition. This chapter explores the name-giving process over time, indicating how naming habits changed, as seas were mainly named for nations or mythological figures in antiquity and for their explorers in the twentieth century. The naming process went hand in hand with European exploration, and over time the relation between the names and the named features as perceived by these Europeans changed as well.


Place names Naming Changing naming habits Large water bodies 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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