AskDefine | Define waterway

Dictionary Definition



1 a navigable body of water
2 a conduit through which water flows [syn: watercourse]

User Contributed Dictionary



water + way


  1. A body of water, such as a river, channel or canal, that can be navigated by boats or ships.
  2. A conduit or watercourse, such as on the deck of a ship, to drain water.

Extensive Definition

A waterway is any navigable body of water. These include rivers, lakes, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:
  • The waterway must be deep enough to allow the draft depth of the vessels using it;
  • The waterway must be wide enough to allow passage for the beam width of the vessels using it;
  • The waterway must be free of barriers to navigation such as waterfalls and rapids, or have a way around them (such as canal locks);
  • The current of the waterway must be mild enough to allow vessels to make headway.
Vessels using waterways vary from small animal-drawn barges to immense ocean tankers and ocean liners, such as cruise ships.


Canals are waterways that are constructed to provide a new path of travel for vessels (as opposed to improving a natural waterway along its current course). At one time, canals were built mostly for small wooden barges drawn by horses or other draft animals. Today, major canals are built to allow passage of large ocean-going vessels (see Ship canal).

Tidal waterway

A tidal waterway is one open to the sea and far enough downstream (close enought to the sea) to be subject to twice-daily (or daily, depending on the local tides) reversals of flow and variation in depth. Non-tidal waterways are either far enough upstream to be beyond tidal effects, or are separated from the sea or the tidal stretch of the same waterway by a barrier (usually a navigation lock).
In actuality, every body of any liquid on the face of the Earth is subject to tides—even a bird bath. However, only bodies of water susceptible to tidal changes noticeable to humans are included in the customary definition.
waterway in Danish: Vandvej
waterway in German: Wasserstraße
waterway in Esperanto: Akvovojo
waterway in Korean: 수로
waterway in Macedonian: Воден пат
waterway in Dutch: Vaarweg
waterway in Japanese: 水路
waterway in Low German: Waterstraat
waterway in Portuguese: Hidrovia
waterway in Simple English: Waterway
waterway in Finnish: Vesiväylä

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adolescent stream, approaches, aqueduct, arroyo, beck, bed, bourn, braided stream, branch, brook, brooklet, burn, canal, channel, creek, creek bed, crick, culvert, donga, dry bed, fairway, flowing stream, flume, fluviation, fresh, freshet, gill, gulch, gully, gullyhole, headrace, irrigation ditch, kill, lazy stream, meandering stream, midchannel, midstream, millstream, moving road, navigable river, nullah, race, racing stream, river, river bed, riverway, rivulet, road, run, rundle, runlet, runnel, sea lane, seaway, ship route, sike, sluice, spill stream, spillbox, spillway, steamer track, stream, stream action, stream bed, streamlet, streamway, subterranean river, swash, swash channel, tailrace, wadi, water carrier, water channel, water furrow, water gap, water gate, watercourse, waterworks
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