Pearl Harbor


: a surprise attack often with devastating effect

Word History


Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, American naval station attacked without warning by the Japanese on December 7, 1941

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Pearl Harbor was in 1942

Dictionary Entries Near Pearl Harbor

Cite this Entry

“Pearl Harbor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Geographical Definition

Pearl Harbor

geographical name

inlet of the Pacific on the southern coast of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu; site of a U.S. Navy base

Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 precipitated the U.S. entry into World War II.

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