Natural Wisdom: What is the Difference Between a Fjord and a Sound?

The name Fjord will, for many people, conjure up mental images of Norway. One of the world’s most famous Fjord’s, however, is known by a different terminology: Milford Sound (pictured below).

Milford Sound Edited


This made us curious (like other similar nomenclature debates such as river, creek, stream, etc…) as to what, if any, the distinction was.

Technically different things, a fjord is probably best visualized as a type of sound. If we take a Sound to mean a large ocean inlet, a Fjord is specifically one that has been carved out by a glacier meeting the coast before receding or being flooded by the ocean.

There is another similar geographical feature found half way around the world. The Musandam Peninsula in Oman looks very much like fjords and shares many of the same characteristics:

Cliffs in Musandam Peninsula
By StellarD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
The difference here is, this is the result of tectonic plates pushing into and under each other. This produces mountains in a traditional sense but as they begin to sink the sea water rises to create this Fjord-esque landscape.