aqui·​fer | \ ˈa-kwə-fər How to pronounce aquifer (audio) , ˈä- \

Definition of aquifer

: a water-bearing stratum of permeable rock, sand, or gravel

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Other Words from aquifer

aquiferous \ a-​ˈkwi-​fə-​rəs How to pronounce aquifer (audio) , ä-​ \ adjective

Aquifer and Agriculture

The vast but relatively shallow Ogallala Aquifer lies beneath the Great Plains, under portions of eight states. Its thickness ranges from a few feet to more than a thousand feet. The Ogallala yields about 30 percent of the nation's groundwater used for irrigation in agriculture, and provides drinking water for most of the people within the area. But for many years more water has been extracted from the Ogallala than has been returned, and the situation today is of great concern.

Examples of aquifer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unlike the elevation changes caused by buildings, sinking caused by pumping can be restored when rain recharges the aquifer. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco Bay Area sinking under its own weight - 3.5 trillion pounds," 19 Feb. 2021 The aquifer program will continue at about half of its current funding — a fact that has irritated the program’s advocates, who say the $100 million envisioned over 10 years isn’t enough. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg launches campaign for third term," 3 Feb. 2021 If the request is granted, Lisbon Valley would become the first aquifer in Utah to be exempted to allow for the in-situ extraction of minerals. Zak Podmore, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Ranchers, landowners worry copper mine’s plan will taint groundwater in San Juan County," 21 Nov. 2020 The transit agency’s leaders and the mayor were eyeing the same source of money for their initiatives — a 1/8-cent sales tax that currently pays for aquifer protection and linear parks. Bruce Selcraig,, "San Antonio voters approve ballot measures for workforce development, transit & Pre-K," 3 Nov. 2020 Dragon snakeheads live in underground reservoirs, only coming to the surface when intense rainfall floods the aquifer and carries them up. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Subterranean Fish Named ‘Gollum’ Belongs to a New Family," 23 Oct. 2020 Bullfrogs croak and Yaqui topminnows wiggle through the pool once fed solely by natural artesian wells pulling ancient water from an aquifer. Anita Snow, The Christian Science Monitor, "As mountains give way to border wall, where does wildlife go?," 18 Dec. 2020 Two wells were drilled in 2013 to tap into a part of the aquifer with pure water. Ian James,, "'We need water to survive': Hopi Tribe pushes for solutions in long struggle for water," 14 Dec. 2020 In its report, TVA said toxins have affected the groundwater in the upper portion of the aquifer. Adrian Sainz, Star Tribune, "TVA to choose from 2 landfills for coal ash removal project," 16 Nov. 2020

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

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First Known Use of aquifer

1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aquifer

borrowed from French aquifère "water-bearing," from aqui- (from Latin aqua "water" + -i- -i-) + -fère "bearing" — more at aqua, -fer

Note: The term was introduced into English by the geologist William Harmon Norton (1856-1944) in "Artesian Wells of Iowa," Iowa Geological Survey, vol. 6, Report on Lead, Zinc, Artesian Wells, etc. (Des Moines, 1897), p. 130: "The sand represents the permeable water-bearing layer, the aquifer, to revive a term of Arago's, and its outcrop between the basin rims the area of supply." "Arago" is the French physicist François Arago (1786-1853), whose essay "Sur les puits forés, connus sous le nom de puits artésiens, des fontaines artésiennes, ou de fontaines jaillissants" (Bureau des Longitudes, Annuaire pour l'an 1835 [Paris, 1834], pp. 181-258, is cited earlier in Norton's paper. As noted by Alfred Clebsch ("Analysis and Critique of 'Aquifers, Ground-Water Bodies, and Hydrophers' by C.V. Theis," Selected Contributions to Ground-Water Hydrology by C.V. Theis, and a Review of His Life and Work [U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2415] [Denver, 1994], pp. 39-43), Norton is not strictly speaking "reviving" anything used by Arago, who only uses aquifère as an adjective in the collocations nappe aquifère and couche aquifère (both meaning approximately "water-bearing layer"). Note that in an English translation of Arago's article ("On Springs, Artesian Wells, and Spouting Fountains," Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, vol. 18, no. 36 [April, 1835]) there is no direct equivalent of aquifère, as couches aquifères is rendered by "water bearing beds" and nappe aquifère as simply "water."

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Time Traveler for aquifer

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The first known use of aquifer was in 1897

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Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aquifer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of aquifer

technical : a layer of rock or sand that can absorb and hold water

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Nglish: Translation of aquifer for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about aquifer

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