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For the physical phenomena see :Category:Sound
Northern Øresund
A live oak on Knotts Island, North Carolina overlooks the Currituck Sound.

In geography a sound or seaway is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, wider than a fjord, or it may identify a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait).

There is little consistency in the use of 'sound' in English-language place names.


In colloquial slang, the Sound is used as a short name for the Øresundmarker , the strait that separates Sjællandmarker, the largest island of Denmarkmarker, from Swedenmarker. It connects the Kattegatmarker with the Baltic Sea. The most narrow part is only 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers wide.In the more general northern European usage, a sund is a strait or the most narrow part of a strait. In the Baltic Seamarker and in Norwaymarker, there are more than a hundred straits named Sund, mostly called after the island they separate from the continent or a larger island.

In areas explored by the British in the late 18th Century, particularly the northwest coast of North America, the term 'sound' was applied to inlets containing large islands (e.g. Puget Soundmarker, Howe Soundmarker) and also bodies of open water still not fully open ocean (Queen Charlotte Soundmarker, Caamaño Soundmarker) or broadenings or mergings at the openings of inlets (Fitz Hugh Soundmarker, Cross Soundmarker).

In the United States, Long Island Soundmarker separates Long Islandmarker from the coast of Connecticutmarker, but on the Atlantic Oceanmarker side of Long Island, the body of water between the ocean and its barrier beaches is termed the Great South Baymarker. Pamlico Soundmarker is a similar lagoon that lies between North Carolinamarker and its barrier beaches, the Outer Banksmarker, in a similar situation. The Mississippi Soundmarker separates the Gulf of Mexicomarker from the mainland along much of the gulf coasts of Mississippimarker and Alabamamarker. On the West Coast, Puget Soundmarker, by contrast, is a deep arm of the ocean.

A sound is often formed by the sea flooding a river valley. This produces a long inlet where the sloping valley hillsides descend to sea-level and continue beneath the water to form a sloping sea floor. The Marlborough Soundsmarker in New Zealandmarker are a good example of this type of formation.

Sometimes a sound is produced by a glacier carving out a valley on the coast then receding, or the sea invading a glacier valley. The glacier produces a sound that often has steep, near vertical, sides that extend deep under water. The sea floor is often flat and deeper at the landward end than the seaward end, due to glacial moraine deposits. This type of sound is more properly termed a fjord (or fiord). The sounds in Fiordlandmarker, New Zealandmarker, have been formed this way.

A sound generally connotes a protected anchorage.


There are two possible explanations of the origin of the word:

It can be derived from Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse sund, which also means "swimming"; it may have originally meant "sea strait narrow enough for a man to swim across".

The word sund is already documented in Old Norse and Old English in the meaning of "gap" (or "narrow access"). This suggests a relation to verbs meaning "to separate" such as sondre (Norwegian), sondra (Swedish), German absondern and aussondern, as well as the English noun sin, Swedish synd, German Sünde ("apart from God's law"). Swedish has also the adjective sönder = "broken", and English has the adjective "asunder".
Puget Sound taken from the Space Needle.

Bodies of water called sounds




Great Soundmarker towards the archipelago's southwest end

British Islesmarker

British Virgin Islandsmarker


Cayman Islandsmarker

Falkland Islandsmarker


New Zealandmarker


Solomon Islandsmarker

United Statesmarker

United States Virgin Islandsmarker

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