ar·​chi·​pel·​a·​go | \ ˌär-kə-ˈpe-lə-ˌgō How to pronounce archipelago (audio) , ˌär-chə-\
plural archipelagoes or archipelagos

Definition of archipelago

1 : an expanse of water with many scattered islands
2 : a group of islands
3 : something resembling an archipelago especially : a group or scattering of similar things an archipelago of small parks within the city

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Did You Know?

The Greeks called it the Aegean Pelagos and the Italians referred to it as Arcipelago (principal sea), but English speakers now call it the Aegean Sea. Numerous islands dot its expanse, and 17th-century English speakers adopted a modified form of its Italian name for any sea with a similar scattering of islands. By the 19th century archipelago had come to refer to the groups of islands themselves, and now it is often used figuratively, as in, for example, "an archipelago of high rises."

Examples of archipelago in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Researchers believe the gene, found in bacteria in the soil of a Norwegian archipelago, made the trek in less than three years, highlighting the speed with which antibiotic resistance can spread on a global scale. Brianna Abbott, WSJ, "Superbug From India Spread Far and Fast, Study Finds," 27 Jan. 2019 Ever since, the collective has grown into a popular artistic front known for creating bold, anticolonial feminist public art across the archipelago. Raquel Reichard, Teen Vogue, "Art Collective Colectivo Moriviví is Painting Political Murals Throughout Puerto Rico," 4 Jan. 2019 In January the sustainable luxury bar gets raised further still with the opening of Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge, on the archipelago’s Jurassic-esque Isla Cavada. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 The pattern features hunks of jagged aqua and amber meant to resemble an archipelago, but one that’s out of this world. Sheila Marikar, ELLE Decor, "An Ode to the Perverse Pleasure of Needlepoint," 6 Sep. 2018 Henning Larsen Architects designed the Eysturkommuna Town Hall as a central meeting place for the self-governing archipelago. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Stunning Nordic town hall is part of the landscape," 6 Aug. 2018 The employee was leading tourists off a ship on an Arctic archipelago near a natural polar bear habitat. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Cruise line faces backlash after guard kills polar bear near North Pole," 31 July 2018 After several years of preparation, a team of researchers traveled in 2015 to the Danger Islands near the Weddell Sea to do a more precise count on the nine-island archipelago. Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "A Supercolony of Penguins Has Been Found Near Antarctica," 5 Mar. 2018 Leiku was built in Glasgow, Scotland by Yarrow, and are designed to patrol Malaysia’s vast archipelago--and a little farther. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Here Are the 50-Plus Ships That Participated in the Navy's Pacific Wargames," 2 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'archipelago.' 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 archipelago

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for archipelago

Archipelago Aegean Sea, from Italian Arcipelago, literally, chief sea, from arci- (from Latin archi-) + Greek pelagos sea — more at plagal

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Last Updated

9 Mar 2019

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The first known use of archipelago was in 1589

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English Language Learners Definition of archipelago

: a group of islands


ar·​chi·​pel·​a·​go | \ ˌär-kə-ˈpe-lə-ˌgō How to pronounce archipelago (audio) , ˌär-chə-\
plural archipelagoes or archipelagos

Kids Definition of archipelago

: a group of islands

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More from Merriam-Webster on archipelago

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with archipelago

Spanish Central: Translation of archipelago

Nglish: Translation of archipelago for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of archipelago for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about archipelago

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