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  5. Meer vs See?


Meer vs See?

Hey everyone. I don't understand what the difference is between Meer and See. Please explain.

February 2, 2018



Actually those are three words.

  • Der See: sweet water. E.g. der Bodensee.

  • Die See: salt water. E.g. die Nordsee.

  • Das Meer: salt water. E.g. das Mittelmeer.

Die See und das Meer are synonyms, although some phrases sound better with a specific one.

  • Er fährt zur See. (It is his job)

  • Er fährt aufs Meer. (One time event)

  • Er fährt ans Meer. (For vacation)


    FYI (for your information), water in English without significant salt in it is called "fresh water". I think it's 'sweet' how Germans call it Süßwasser ;).


    "Die See" (feminine), oder "das Meer", is "the sea". "Der See" (masculine) is a lake. And obviously, "der Ozean" is "the ocean" :)


    the sea (with an 'a')


    Thankyou everyone this is a great help :D


    Meer means sea in English; See means lake in English


    and to add to the confusion, Mere is a word for lake in English

    • 1133

    Max - Ich glaube nicht, dass es so geschnitten und getrocknet ist. Does my sentence translate into German and mean the same thing as cut and dried does in English?

    I couldn't find a German phrase that uses geschnitten und getrocknet - cut and dried in German which in English means it "is not that simple". So does Es ist nicht so einfach work?

    How about Das ist nicht eindeutig?

    • 1133

    It seems to me that they can both be used for "sea" and "ocean". But I usually never see "Meer" translated as "lake", or vice versa. But that is not to say that I never see them both translated as such. I tend to think of Meer being bigger than a See. However, as you know, I am not a native German speaker.


    das IJsselmeer, in the Netherlands, is a lake (originally a bay until they shut off the sea by a huge dike, now it's fresh water). The Germans just copied the Dutch word "het IJsselmeer"; in Dutch, meer = lake, zee = sea.

    The IJsselmeer itself was called "Zuiderzee" when it still was part of the sea. Note how the Germans also copied the Dutch "IJ" (two capital letters), which is considered as one ligated letter in Dutch.


    Meer is ocean and see is lake.

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