I have browsed the Internet several times, and eventually, I failed to learn what is the difference exactly between those.

It would be appreciated, if someone please through a marked or signed picture show me their differences. Or, where are they located or imagined exactly-- or, which oart of the land are they considered to be located? I have looked up the dictionary Oxford, but I am yet confused with them. I don't need the explanations of dictionaries, but I want you please suggest a different interpretation of the terms, so that I could differentiate between them well. especially, I cannot understand any difference between the bold parts.

shore, shoreline, beach, coast, coastline. sand.

I have seen the first one in the dictionary Oxford. And, the second one is my own sentence. So, is it correct? if not why? or what is the difference between those?

The ship was anchored off shore.

The ship was anchored off coast.

  • 1
    There are some subtleties, depending on what you are trying to express and what part of the world you are in. If you want to go to the beach, you would drive to the shore in New Jersey but to the coast in California.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 3:42
  • You're doing a lot of bounties. I just thought you might like to know that when you get a lot of reputation points, you can do more things on the site. For example, you can vote to keep questions open, or close them and you have more power over you own posts too. Maybe you want to save up a lot of points before you give some more big bounties (Although we do like big bounties for good questions, it's interesting!) :-) Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 11:12
  • First thanks. How I, however, can get boundries?]
    – nima
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 14:55
  • The other time you asked this question, you provided a link to a webpage that gives very clear definitions for many of the words on your list. (scienceclarified.com/landforms/Basins-to-Dunes/…) Sand isn't there, but sand has a pretty straightforward definition (To the layperson: tiny-tiny-tiny rocks. One civil engineer to another: sand is soil with grain size between .0625 mm and 2 mm.) So I don't really understand what your question is. Is there a definition on your linked page that you don't understand?
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 19:38
  • What is a marked or signed picture? I mean, are you asking us to draw you a picture, literally?
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 10:41

4 Answers 4



(Oxford definition) The land along the edge of the sea or ocean, a lake or another large area of water.

(Merriam Webster definition) Strip of land where the sea meets the land.

enter image description here


(Oxford definition) The edge of the sea, the ocean or a lake.

(Merriam Webster definition) Strip of land where the sea meets the land.

From dictionary definition it might mean that they are similar, but in reality or in actual ocean terminology they are not similar.

(From coastal wiki) The intersection between the mean high water line and the shore.

enter image description here


(Merriam Webster definition) Area where the land meets the sea; its features vary depending on climate, wind, sea and the type of rocks of which it is composed.

(Oxford definition) An area of sand or small stones (called shingles) beside the sea or a lake.

So a beach and a shore are the same.

enter image description here


(Oxford definition) The land beside or near to the sea or ocean

(From coastal wiki) The strip of land that extends from the coastline inland to the first major change in the terrain features, which are not influenced by the coastal processes. The main types of coastal features are dunes, cliffs and low-lying areas, possibly protected by dikes or seawalls.

enter image description here

Please refer the picture for better understanding.


(Oxford definition) The land along a coast, especially when you are thinking of its shape or appearance.

(From coastal wiki) Technically the line that forms the boundary between the COAST and the SHORE, i.e. the foot of the cliff or the foot of the dunes. Commonly, the line that forms the boundary between the land and the water.

Again have a look at this picture for better understanding.

enter image description here


Usage Note from Advanced Learner's Dictionary

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Wow, you surely did your homework!
    – Stephie
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 17:27
  • Where does the usage note come from? EDIT: I see now it says Oxford usage. But which Oxford reference book/source?
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 1:47
  • @CarSmack It's online dictionary - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. I am editing my answer to include the name. Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 2:34
  • 1
    As I noted in an earlier comment, there are some subtleties, too many to list in one answer, as the terms are used beyond their basic geological definitions. Coast and shore can sometimes refer to an entire region; thus Washington, D.C. is an "East Coast" city even though it is nowhere near the sea. Washingtonians have their vacation homes on the Eastern Shore (of Chesapeake Bay), not the East Coast of Chesapeake Bay; but if someone is going to the shore for the weekend, they probably mean the Atlantic beaches in Delaware or Ocean City.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 4:15
  • 1
    @CoolHandLouis Agree. For example "shoreline" and "shore", "coastline" and "coast". In common english "shoreline" and "shore" can be used almost anonymously, so is true for "coastline" and "coast". I had no other option to present it this way as I assumed that OP was trying to get the subtle distinction between those terms and apart from technical aspects I had no other device to show it successfully. Knowing this fact, at the bottom I quoted OLD usage note and wherever possible (cont...) Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 4:09
  • Shore

The land along the edge of any body of water.

  • Shoreline

The line that forms the edge between land and water.

  • Coast/coastline

Same as for shore, but only for seas and oceans. See seashore. Merriamwebster disagrees with this but most of the times it's only applied to seas.

  • Beach

A part of the shore where sand or gravel or stone brought by the moving water accumulate: From panoramio

I want to add one:

  • Bank

The river shore.

  • In addition to this fine answer, Nima may find some help with Google translator, to pinpoint the meaning.
    – mins
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 19:40

Shore = the area between the sea, lake or river and the land within a local area (for example, within a bay - but a shore can be quite long). Normally, something you can walk on or at least land a boat on (a cliff is not really the shore). "The raft approached the shore". A shore can be a beach, but a shore could be a rocky shore.

The shore extends approximately from the water's edge to the high-water mark (the furtherest the sea can reach). After this point, you are on the land proper.

However, the word can in some contexts also just mean "next to the sea/lake/river". For example: "I have a house on the shore" means your house is next to physical shore as defined above (but not necessarily that it is actually on the beach itself or anything like that).

A shore can be on a lake or a river (unlike coast, which is only used with open water). So shore is equivalent to coast in the context of rivers and lakes. You would only use it for large rivers though; otherwise use "bank" or "riverbank".

It is also used as a general term for "the land", hence "ashore" means on the land, as opposed to at sea. "The ship was heading to the shore" could just mean it was heading towards land. The expression "ship to shore communications" just means "communications between someone on a boat and someone on the land".

Shoreline = like shore, but emphasising the exact border between the water and the land, or emphasising the shore as a long two dimensional entity (perhaps because it is far away). "The shoreline was littered with seaweed" or "the shoreline curved away".

Beach = Shore, but flat and usually with at least some sand or very small stones. The more sand, the better the beach!

Coast = The border between land and sea on a larger scale than shore. Not usually applied to lakes (unless perhaps they are very big). "The north coast of Cornwall is rugged". You don't talk about the north shore of Cornwall (a county in England).

Unlike "shore" the coast can extend inland some way. If you have "a house on the coast" it means your house is within a few kilometres of the sea.

Coastline = like coast, but emphasising the exact border. Often used when talking about the length or shape of the coastline.

Sand = the white or beige material on a beach, on a riverbed or in golf-course bunkers.

  • Sand is certainly not only white or beige. Take a kook
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 1:57

Okay, here is the picture I worked on. The references are taken from Cambridge Dictionary.

coast, shore, shoreline


shoreline - the line is the edge of a sea here. You may consider this as a 'separating line'

shore - shore is the land along the edge of a sea. Mind the word 'along'.

On the other hand,

coast -the land next to/close to the sea. You may imagine a resort just next to the trees shown here in the image. That's the 'coast' of the ocean.

The example follows: Rimini is a thriving resort on the east cost of Italy. The word coast is broader here. We generally use coast to not to define a particular edge/place as shore. It's anywhere next/close to the sea as the definition says.

The same way, 'coastline' is a broader term. If you google it, most of the images give you a bird's view. That said, it's an overall picture of an ocean and its surrounding.

The dictionary defines:

the particular shape of the coast, especially as seen from above, from the sea, or on a map

  • What does " the edge of a sea" exactly mean here??
    – nima
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 9:52
  • 1
    the border you see. I have marked it in the picture.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 10:36
  • 1
    Between the water body and the shore lay shoreline :) Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:33
  • Thanks. I cannot get what"Unlike "shore" the coast can extend inland some way. If you have "a house on the coast" it means your house is within a few kilometres of the sea" means.
    – nima
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 13:53
  • 1
    @nima I have a friend whose house is about two miles from a sandy beach full of surfers. To get to the ocean he rides a bike or drives a car. His house is on the coast. It is not on the shore.
    – Adam
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 21:21

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