What’s The Difference Between Ponds, Streams, Canals, Rivers, Swamps, Lagoons, Lakes, Seas, Glaciers & Oceans?

There are so many different types of water bodies discussed everyday that it can get rather confusing on what the exact subtle differences are between them. This is in no way a comprehensive list of all types but I’ve tried to cover the most frequently used ones. It’s also important to note that there’s not necessarily a certain size a specific water body should be.


  • Typically a ‘lite version’ of lakes
  • A small body of water


  • Typically a ‘lite version’ of rivers
  • Small, narrow body of water with a slight current


  • Man-made waterway connecting two bodies of water


  • Large flowing freshwater bodies that typically end in a sea or ocean

e.g. Nile, Congo, Mississippi, Yangtze


  • A wetland area that has a permanent large body of water


  • Shallow saltwater that is separated from the sea/ocean by coral, sand or rocks


  • Body of fresh/salt water enclosed by land
  • Typically quite deep and significantly larger than ponds


  • ‘Frozen rivers’
  • Cover 10% of planet’s land area


  • Smaller than oceans and are located where oceans meet the land
  • Typically partly enclosed by land

e.g. Mediterranean, Caribbean, South China


  • Largest type of water body and represents an enormous stretch of open water

e.g. Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic




Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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Akhil Sonthi

Akhil Sonthi

Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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