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[mahrsh] /mɑrʃ/
a tract of low wet land, often treeless and periodically inundated, generally characterized by a growth of grasses, sedges, cattails, and rushes.
Origin of marsh
before 900; Middle English mershe, Old English mer(i)sc (cognate with German Marsch). See mere2, -ish1; cf. marais, marish, morass
Related forms
marshlike, adjective
swamp, bog, fen, marshland, wetland. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for marshes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On grasses that occur in damp places, such as water meads, marshes and fens from July to April.

  • Whew—— "Señor of all the domains, fiefs, keeps and marshes of Warren of Kentucky—"

    The Ghost Breaker Paul Dickey
  • Frequents fields and marshes, where it hunts to and fro after mice, which form its principal fare.

    What Bird is That? Frank M. Chapman
  • It was at the edge of one of the marshes that the cub saw his first deer.

    The Black Phantom Leo Edward Miller
  • We think it very possible that Ronald is in hiding somewhere in the marshes.

    The Shrieking Pit Arthur J. Rees
  • There were no forests to lay waste here, nor marshes to be drained.

    Winning the Wilderness Margaret Hill McCarter
  • The bladderwort, reputed common on these marshes, seems to have become much scarcer than it was twenty years back.

British Dictionary definitions for marshes


low poorly drained land that is sometimes flooded and often lies at the edge of lakes, streams, etc Compare swamp (sense 1) related adjective paludal
Derived Forms
marshlike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English merisc; related to German Marsch, Dutch marsk; related to mere²


Dame (Edith) Ngaio (ˈnaɪəʊ). 1899–1981, New Zealand crime writer, living in Britain (from 1928). Her many detective novels include Final Curtain (1947) and Last Ditch (1977)
Rodney (William). born 1947, Australian cricketer: a wicketkeeper, he took 355 dismissals in 96 test matches (1970–84)
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 marshes



Old English mersc, merisc "marsh, swamp," from West Germanic *marisko (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon marsk "marsh," Middle Dutch mersch, Dutch mars, German Marsch, Danish marsk), probably from Proto-Germanic *mari- "sea" (see mere (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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marshes in Science
An area of low-lying wetland in which the level of water is generally shallow and often fluctuating. The water may be either standing or slow-moving. The water in a marsh is also more or less neutral or alkaline, in contrast to the water in a bog, which is acidic. The environment of a marsh is in general well-oxygenated and nutrient-rich and allows a great variety of organisms to flourish. In contrast to a swamp, in which there is an abundance of woody plants, the plants in a marsh are mostly herbaceous. Reeds and rushes dominate the vegetation of marshes. See also salt marsh.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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