I was looking through some old maps published in Hamburg in the 1790s and the label Atlantische Ocean stuck out to me.

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I would expect it to show Atlantischer Ozean (and looking at modern maps seems to confirm this), because der Ozean is a masculine noun. I know that German spelling has changed over time, but has the gender of this word also changed? Or is there a reason why one might use Atlantische Ozean without a preceding der?

  • Kannst Du ähnlich alte Karten der arabischen Halbinsel finden, und überprüfen, ob dort "Rotes Meer" oder "Rote Meer" steht - ersatzweise, natürlich weiter nördlich, das Schwarze Meer? Mar 17, 2021 at 22:16
  • On the map for Massachusetts it says Atlantischer Ozean (and also kleiner See). On the other hand, other maps have die unterstrichene Namen. Some insecurity with regard to strong/weak adjective endings?
    – David Vogt
    Mar 17, 2021 at 22:38
  • It says Atlantischer Ocean, to be precise. Mar 18, 2021 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


My best guess is, the Der can be found below the Ipswich peninsula, the same way as the trailing an of Ocean in the upper part of the excerpt.

As you can check on DWDS, in the Etymologie section:

  • no other gender than masculine is mentioned
  • Latin oceanus and Greek Ὠκεανός were also masculine

So I doubt any intermittent deviations. Brockhaus 1894 also has it as masculine on the map, the examples from Grimm by Goethe (written as Göthe there) and Schiller confirm this as does Adelung, the dictionary from 1793.

  • Hey I appreciate the answer. The clipping doesn't show it, but that's the bottom of the map. The same spelling is used on all but one of the maps in the collection including those with plenty of space.
    – Connor
    Mar 17, 2021 at 21:02
  • The DWDS link is very helpful. I'll just leave the question open for a bit longer in case anyone comes up with an explanation. It seems like an odd mistake to make repeatedly.
    – Connor
    Mar 17, 2021 at 21:04
  • 3
    Maybe I’m way off the mark, but is it possible that the “der” is implied and left off because they wanted to save space on the map? “Der atlantische Ozean” would be correct...
    – eurieka
    Mar 18, 2021 at 2:59
  • 3
    @eurieka I have seen exactly the same from some older generation teachers of mine when they were writing on the blackboard. Could be the same reasoning. Mar 18, 2021 at 8:28

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