When we say stagnant sea/lake/pond, does it connote that sea/lake/pond is dirty?

According definition, the word stagnant means "stagnant water or air is not moving and therefore smells unpleasant"

How can we call a lake which is not moving, but it is not dirty either.

I saw on the Internet that there is a place called the Dead Lakes in the US. But the word the dead could make a place sound scary.

picture of a lake

  • You could also say glassy because when the water isn't moving, it will act like a mirror. Apr 20 '15 at 0:44

You could call it a placid lake.


Yes, stagnant does denote water that is dirty. I would expect a stagnant pond to be covered in algae or fungal blooms. I would expect the water to look somewhat brown from sediment. I would expect bugs. A dead lake would mean that fish can no longer survive in it, so I would expect no fish, no turtles, no frogs.

I would not expect the water to look clean and nice like the lake in the picture you included. I would describe the lake in the picture as still, calm, clean, and clear. If there truly is no river bringing fresh water into the lake, you could call it "a lake with no inlet". In that case, I would expect that the water is coming from an underground spring, so we could call it a "spring-fed lake". "Spring-fed" has positive connotations, and if I was told we were going to a spring-fed lake, I would expect to see a lake like the one in your photograph.

  • Personally I prefer "still water" to "placid lake". +1
    – Eric
    Jan 28 '15 at 5:47

It could be pacific, standing, or idle, just to name a few. Basically most synonyms for "unmoving" or "inactive".

  • I wouldn't use any of those words to describe a lake. "Pacific" isn't widely understood and is likely to be confused for the ocean; "peaceful" would be better. "Standing water" refers to puddles (e.g., on the highway) after the rain has stopped so isn't really appropriate. "Idle" suggests laziness or a temporary state of not moving so, again, doesn't really work. "Inactive" also sounds temporary. Apr 19 '15 at 23:21

How about bog, swamp, or marsh?

  • 3
    None of those terms describe a lake.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 28 '15 at 4:31
  • 1
    @ColleenV - The title of the question is misleading, I originally thought this was what the OP was looking for as well when I clicked the question
    – Robotnik
    Jan 28 '15 at 6:35
  • I agree with @Robotnik - if "lake" was being used generically to mean "body of water", this answer fits into the conversation.
    – J.R.
    Jan 28 '15 at 10:21
  • Sorry, my comment got truncated on my mobile and left off the "that isn't dirty". Bog, swamps, and marshes are all messy places. The example image doesn't evoke any qualities I would associate with a swamp, bog, or marsh.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 28 '15 at 12:02

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