aq·​ue·​duct ˈa-kwə-ˌdəkt How to pronounce aqueduct (audio)
: a conduit for water
especially : one for carrying a large quantity of flowing water
: a structure for conveying a canal over a river or hollow
: a canal or passage in a part or organ

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Based partly on the Latin ducere, meaning "lead" or "conduct," the word aqueduct named an ancient civil-engineering marvel. Ancient Rome's aqueduct system, an extraordinary feat of engineering, brought water to the city from as far as 57 miles (92 kilometers) away. Only a portion of the Roman aqueducts utilized the familiar stone arch; most were underground conduits made of stone or terra-cotta pipe. Modern aqueduct systems now often use reinforced concrete for large water mains, and ductile iron, a stronger and more elastic type of cast iron, for smaller underground pipes.

Example Sentences

marveled at the ancient Roman aqueducts that still carry water to distant villages
Recent Examples on the Web At its zenith, the aqueduct system supplied water to almost 200 cities within the Roman Empire. Allison Futterman, Discover Magazine, 3 Mar. 2022 Since its completion in the early 1990s, the aqueduct has underpinned Arizona’s tremendous growth and helped Wong’s 4,000 acres of Sonoran Desert bloom with organic grains, cotton and alfalfa. Erin Patrick O'connor, Washington Post, 14 May 2022 He too owned tracts in the Valley, and helped to engineer the aqueduct taking of the Owens Valley water to make those tracts even more valuable. Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 Though the Romans did not invent the road, arch nor aqueduct, their renditions were renowned for their sturdiness and strength, and some still operate today. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 1 Dec. 2021 The All-American Canal, which feeds the Imperial Valley, was built decades before the Central Arizona Project, a gigantic aqueduct system that began construction in the seventies, so Southern California has senior rights. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 23 Dec. 2022 Recently, officials from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California celebrated as crews lowered a section of earthquake-resistant pipeline into a portion of the Colorado River aqueduct. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2022 John Shea became chief executive of J.F. Shea Co. and worked closely with his cousins to find work on tunnel, dam and aqueduct projects that helped supply water to the booming coastal cities of the West. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 28 Oct. 2022 The Tunnel of Eupalinos, located on the Greek island of Samos in the eastern Aegean Sea, was an aqueduct that carried water for more than 1,000 years. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 9 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aqueduct.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin aquaeductus, from aquae (genitive of aqua) + ductus act of leading — more at duct

First Known Use

1538, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of aqueduct was in 1538

Dictionary Entries Near aqueduct

Cite this Entry

“Aqueduct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


aq·​ue·​duct ˈak-wə-ˌdəkt How to pronounce aqueduct (audio)
: an artificial channel for water
especially : one for carrying a large quantity of flowing water
: a structure that carries the water of a canal across a river or hollow

Medical Definition


aq·​ue·​duct ˈak-wə-ˌdəkt How to pronounce aqueduct (audio)
: a canal or passage in a part or organ

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