barrier island

noun
a broadened barrier beach, habitable in places, that provides a measure of protection for the mainland, as during hurricanes and tidal waves.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
barrier island   (bār'ē-ər)  Pronunciation Key 
A long, narrow sand island that is parallel to the mainland and serves to protect the coast from erosion. Barrier islands typically have dunes along the exposed outer side, zones of vegetation in the interior, and swampy areas along the inner lagoon.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

barrier island definition


Any low sandy island that is parallel to the mainland and protects it from storms. (See Cape Hatteras.)

Note: Barrier islands normally change location every ten to thirty years, a fact that makes coastline management a major problem in environmental policy.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
You're heading for the uninhabited barrier island ahead.
Below is a simplified cross section of a barrier island.
When planning your trip, please consult the barrier island visitation policies
  provided on this page.
In response to rising sea level, the barrier island migrated shoreward over
  lagoonal muds.
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