This thesis grew from a long-standing interest in sea language, an interest deepened and intensified by many years of familiarity with technical terms, nomenclature, procedural directions, and traditional expressions used in both routine and in emergency situations. Histories of English literature discuss the influence of Smollett and Marryat in introducing sailors' talk into eighteenth and nineteenth century fiction. Lexicographers and philologists have dealt at length with seagoing words, but there has been no detailed study of the sea language in modern American fiction. This thesis is an initial step towards fulfilling that need. From hundreds of modern American sea novels, twelve were selected. A primary consideration in the selection was the inclusion of authors with various backgrounds of seagoing experience so that the language of authors who are landsmen could be compared with that of authors who ventured but briefly offshore and with that of seamen who became authors. After authors with the desired qualifications had been chosen, specific novels were selected on a basis of general public appeal and popular readability rather than because of literary merit. No novel published before 1940 was considered. Writers without fundamental experience as seamen wrote five of the novels: James Michener, The Bridges at Toko-ri; Guy Gilpatric, Mr. Glencannon Ignores the War; Charles Nordoff and James Hall, The High Barbaree; Kenneth Roberts, Lydia Bailey; and Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea. Authors with duration-of-war or other passing association with life aboard ship wrote four of the novels: Thomas Heggen, Mr. Roberts; Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny; Vincent McHugh, The Victory; and Marcus Goodrich, Delilah. Professional seamen wrote three of the novels: Robert Carse, Deep Six; Kenneth Dodson, Away All Boats; and William Leaderer, All the Ship's at Sea. This thesis considers each group in turn. An author's relationship with the sea and with his story is outlined briefly before identifying, listing, and discussing the sea language of his novel. Confirmation of the nautical character of each listed word was checked in maritime dictionaries, glossaries, or other authoritative reference works; the composite glossary, forming Chapter VI of the thesis, shows the nautical definition of each word and the authority defining it. In addition to a list of the sea vocabulary used by an author, his facility in the use of sea language and the suitability of his expressions are analyzed. Errors are critically examined. Statistical analyses are presented to compare the average number of sea terms used per page by authors of the same sea experience. Likewise, each group is compared to the others to show similarities and differences in usage and in statistical averages of sea terms per page. As would be expected, this study shows that the sea vocabulary of an author is a function of his interest and familiarity with life at sea, and that the romantic atmosphere of the sea in a sea novel is greatly enhanced if the sea language is fluent and effective.