Etymology
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inlet (n.)
"narrow opening into a coast, arm of the sea," 1570s, said by old sources to be originally a Kentish term; a special use of Middle English inlate "passage or opening by which an enclosed place may be entered" (c. 1300), from inleten "to let in" (early 13c.), from in + let (v.).
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fjord (n.)

1670s, from Norwegian fiord, from Old Norse fjörðr "an inlet, estuary," from North Germanic *ferthuz "place for crossing over, ford," from PIE *pertu-, from root *per- (2) "to lead, pass over." The etymological sense probably is "a going, a passage."

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bay (n.1)
"inlet, recess in the shore of a sea or lake," c. 1400, from Old French baie, Late Latin baia (source of Spanish and Portuguese bahia, Italian baja), which is perhaps ultimately from Iberian (Celtic) bahia.
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ria (n.)

"long, narrow inlet of the sea formed by a drowned river valley," from Spanish ria "estuary, river mouth" (adopted as a geological term first in German, 1886), from Latin ripa "stream bank" (see riparian).

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kill (n.2)
"stream, creek," 1630s, American English, from Dutch kil "a channel," from Middle Dutch kille "riverbed, inlet." The word is preserved in place names in the Mid-Atlantic American states (such as Schuylkill, Catskill, Fresh Kills, etc.). A common Germanic word, the Old Norse form, kill, meant "bay, gulf" and gave its name to Kiel Fjord on the Baltic coast and thence to Kiel, the German port city founded there in 1240.
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stoma (n.)
"orifice, small opening in an animal body," 1680s, Modern Latin, from Greek stoma (genitive stomatos) "mouth; mouthpiece; talk, voice; mouth of a river; any outlet or inlet," from PIE root *stom-en-, denoting various body parts and orifices (source also of Avestan staman- "mouth" (of a dog), Hittite shtamar "mouth," Middle Breton staffn "mouth, jawbone," Cornish stefenic "palate"). Surgical sense is attested from 1937.
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bay (n.2)
"opening in a wall," especially a space between two columns, late 14c. from Old French baee "opening, hole, gulf," noun use of fem. past participle of bayer "to gape, yawn," from Medieval Latin batare "gape," perhaps of imitative origin. Meaning "compartment for storage: is from 1550s. Somewhat confused with bay (n.1) "inlet of the sea," it is the bay in sick-bay and bay window (early 15c.).
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creek (n.)

mid-15c., creke "narrow inlet in a coastline," altered from kryk (early 13c.; in place names from 12c.), probably from Old Norse kriki "corner, nook," perhaps influenced by Anglo-French crique, itself from a Scandinavian source via Norman. Perhaps ultimately related to crook and with an original notion of "full of bends and turns" (compare dialectal Swedish krik "corner, bend; creek, cove").

Extended to "inlet or short arm of a river" by 1570s, which probably led to use for "small stream, brook" in American English (1620s). In U.S. commonly pronounced and formerly sometimes spelled crick. Also used there and in Canada, Australia, New Zealand for "branch of a main river," possibly from explorers moving up main rivers and seeing and noting mouths of tributaries without knowing they often were extensive rivers of their own.

Slang phrase up the creek "in trouble" (often especially "pregnant") is attested by 1941, perhaps originally armed forces slang for "lost while on patrol," or perhaps a cleaned-up version of the older up shit creek in the same sense.

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cove (n.1)

early 14c., "den, cave, gollow nook," from Old English cofa "small chamber, cell," from Proto-Germanic *kubon (compare Old High German kubisi "tent, hut," German Koben "pigsty," Old Norse kofi "hut, shed").

Extension of meaning to "small bay, inlet, or creek" is from 1580s, apparently via Scottish dialectal meaning "small hollow place in coastal rocks" (a survival of an Old English secondary sense). Also in early Middle English, "chamber, closet, pantry," hence the legal phrase cove and keie "right of the mistress of a household to control 'pantry and key,'" that is, to manage the household (late 13c.).

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fleet (n.)

Old English fleot "a ship, a raft, a floating vessel," also, collectively, "means of sea travel; boats generally," from fleotan "to float, swim," from Proto-Germanic *fleutanan(source also of Old Saxon fliotan, Old Frisian fliata, Old Norse fljta, Old High German fliozzan, Middle Dutch vlieten "to flow"), from PIE *pleud-, extended form of root *pleu- "to flow."

The sense of "naval force, group of ships under one command" is in late Old English. The more usual Old English word was flota "a ship," also "a fleet; a sailor." The fleet for "the navy" is attested by 1712. The Old English word also meant "estuary, inlet, flow of water," especially the one into the Thames near Ludgate Hill, which lent its name to Fleet Street (home of newspaper and magazine houses, hence its use metonymically for "the English press" since at least 1882) and Fleet prison (long used for debtors).

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