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Breakwaters and breakwalls

Sep 18, 2015

I grew up in Newcastle and so the breakwater at Nobby’s was familiar territory. The term breakwater is the one that I would use for any rock wall extending out into the sea for a reasonable stretch. Sometimes a breakwater will have a path on top – but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes a breakwater will curve around a marina but again, it doesn’t have to. A smaller version of this I would call a groyne. Breakwaters are single constructions whereas groynes usually come in numbers and are there to prevent sand erosion along a beach.

But now it seems that breakwaters are called breakwalls. In a way I can see the logic of this. The term breakwater comes from the function, the term breakwall comes from the construction. Has breakwall replaced breakwater? Or is there some subtle distinction?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below. And if you have a photo of a breakwater or break wall, send it to us!


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2 Comments

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Damaris Wilson - Oct. 15, 2015, 4:17 p.m.

A breakwater is what it's always been - why the change?


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Macquarie Dictionary Admin - Oct. 20, 2015, 12:10 p.m.

The term breakwater is still in use. We’ve just noticed a rising number of people calling them breakwalls. They are making more note of the ‘construction’ of it as opposed to the ‘function’. A shift in language.


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