shore

“The common margin of the land and a body of water” (Dictionary of Geological Terms). Shore can be parsed further into the subsets of beach and coast. One could say that shore is the more formal-sounding and “elegant” of the three—as evidenced by real estate developers and bad poets. Beach: a gently sloping shore made of sand or pebbles, washed by waves and tides. (Louisiana has few beaches, but lots of shore.) A shore can be more abrupt than a beach—it can be muddy, or rocky, or swampy. Coast: a segment of land that contains the territory between the shore and the first major change in terrain features (such as sea cliffs). A shore can contain those terrain features. (See California’s Route 1, or the Oregon Coast.) A shore, then, is the ultimate boundary between two worlds. If you’re not at sea, you’re on the shore. And if you’re a gospel singer, you’re rowing for the far shores of Heaven. A shore is all-encompassing, and a beach is a part of that shore: every year, millions of people go to the beach at the Jersey shore.

Luis Alberto Urrea