What words can I use to distinguish between a land-plot that has a water source (e.g. well, spring, oasis...) and a land-plot that doesn't?

I thought of wet vs. dry, but these seem too general, not specific to lands.

I thought of fertile vs. infertile, but these are not specific to water.

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    Good question. Maybe there are specific terms for land with and/or without a water source - but if so, I doubt they're particularly common. Usually, the fact that there may be a water source isn't really critical though - what matters is whether it's land with water rights. Even if you have a well, that's no good if your neighbour extracts so much water the water table drops and your well runs dry. Oct 9, 2013 at 18:25
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    Somewhat related: A country without access to the seas is called landlocked country, and a region where the precipitation is less than the evaporation is called arid, but in both cases there could be water sources.
    – Stephen
    Oct 9, 2013 at 18:36
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    There may be specific terms that I am not aware of, but I think what you have said in your opening sentence ("has a water source" vs. "does not have a water source") may be the best way to say it. As a parallel example, the word fenestrated means "having windows," but 98% of the time, most folks are better off just saying, "I like how the windows are set up in this room" as opposed to, "I like how this room is fenestrated." Just because there is a word doesn't mean it's always best to use that word. Interesting question, though.
    – J.R.
    Oct 9, 2013 at 18:36
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    There isn't any confusion in your question, but with your second paragraph, be aware that "wetland" has a specific meaning and usage that is NOT antithetical to "dry land". The same is true of defenestration, although I suspect @J.R. chose it for humour value more than anything else. Oct 9, 2013 at 19:23
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    @ErelSegalHalevi: The antonym would be humid, cf. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Klimate-humidit%C3%A4t.png Look at Egypt: the climate there is arid, but the Nile river is a source of water, thus arid-humid is not exactly what you asked for, but maybe it is close enough.
    – Stephen
    Oct 10, 2013 at 8:49

2 Answers 2


A region with less precipitation than potential evapotranspiration is called arid (from Latin aridus: dry, drouthy). This does not necessarily mean that there are no water sources. For example, when looking at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Klimate-humidität.png it can be seen that Egypt is arid, but of course there is the river Nile as source of water.

The antonym of arid is humid (cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humid#Climate).

When talking about availability of water, also water rights must be taken into account, as pointed out by FumbleFingers. Additionally it might be necessary to distinguish between water and drinking water: think of an island in the ocean – lots of salt water, but maybe no fresh water.

A country without access to the seas is called landlocked country, which is important when considering for example ship transport or fishing.

Note that a wetland is not just wet land and that irrigable means can be irrigated. If you get water from somewhere (e.g. by pipeline), you could also irrigate an arid area, i.e. there exists arid irrigable land. arid and irrigable are not antonyms. Irrigation is even applied to land which needs water, thus arid land gets irrigation but humid land will be seldom irrigated.

Merk mentioned http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_scarcity for additional thematic information. Also FAO: The arid environments might be of interest.


Some possibilities:

Lands with water security/sufficiency vs. lands with water scarcity/stress (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_scarcity)

Arid lands vs. irrigable lands

Lands with/without/starved of water resources

  • I wanted a single word or an adjective... arid vs. irrigable sounds like a good pair. Oct 10, 2013 at 5:39
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    @ErelSegalHalevi: irrigable means can be irrigated, and when you get water from somewhere (e.g. by pipeline), you could also irrigate an arid area, i.e. there is arid irrigable land. They are not antonyms.
    – Stephen
    Oct 10, 2013 at 8:54

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