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[lit-er-uh l] /ˈlɪt ər əl/
of or relating to the shore of a lake, sea, or ocean.
(on ocean shores) of or relating to the biogeographic region between the sublittoral zone and the high-water line and sometimes including the supralittoral zone above the high-water line.
of or relating to the region of freshwater lake beds from the sublittoral zone up to and including damp areas on shore.
Compare intertidal.
a littoral region.
Origin of littoral
1650-60; < Latin littorālis, variant of lītorālis of the shore, equivalent to lītor- (stem of lītus) shore + -ālis -al1
Can be confused
literal, littoral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for littoral
  • Visitors no longer can drive in open carriages along the littoral-Times.
  • These phenomena unequivocally point to shallow and even littoral waters.
  • Also called a littoral explosion steam room: noun: chamber filled with water vapor, used in spas or parts of saunas.
  • It's not the white-sanded littoral paradise of a thousand movies but a grungy, rock-strewn place.
  • littoral cones are a type of volcanic landform created when lava flows come into contact with the sea.
  • The mean high-water line is the ordinary boundary between private beachfront, or littoral property, and state-owned land.
  • Currents, waves, and wind normally transport sediment throughout the littoral system.
British Dictionary definitions for littoral


of or relating to the shore of a sea, lake, or ocean
(biology) inhabiting the shore of a sea or lake or the shallow waters near the shore: littoral fauna
a coastal or shore region
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin littorālis, from lītorālis, from lītus shore
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for littoral

"pertaining to the seashore," 1650s, from Latin littoralis "of or belonging to the seashore," from litus (genitive litoris) "seashore" (cf. Lido), of unknown origin, possibly from PIE root *lei- "to flow." The noun is first recorded 1828, from Italian littorale, originally an adjective, from Latin littoralis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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littoral in Science
Relating to the coastal zone between the limits of high and low tides. The littoral zone is subject to a wide range of environmental conditions, including high-energy wave action and intermittent periods of flooding and drying along with the associated fluctuations in exposure to solar radiation and extremes of temperature. Compare sublittoral.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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