ˈa-ˌtȯl How to pronounce atoll (audio)
ˈā- How to pronounce atoll (audio)
: a coral island consisting of a reef surrounding a lagoon

Illustration of atoll

Illustration of atoll

Did you know?

If you are lucky enough to sail south and west of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, you'll find the Maldives, a group of about 1,200 coral islands and sandbanks that form the Republic of Maldives. Many islands in that independent nation demonstrate the archetypal atoll, and geographers often use them to point out the characteristic features of such coral islands. Given how prevalent atolls are there, it isn't surprising that atoll comes from the name for that kind of island in Divehi, the official language of the Maldives.

Examples of atoll in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web My scientist friend Frances had to hand over her pear; bananas, which can carry a contagious plant ailment, will not be found in the atoll’s fruit baskets. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 20 Mar. 2024 As a simple, robust mobile platform, an SLV is an ideal means to help the Philippines reinforce their presence at contested atolls in the South China Sea or elsewhere. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 It could be set off by a sudden Chinese move to militarize Scarborough Shoal, another atoll in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012. Michael J. Mazarr, Foreign Affairs, 9 Feb. 2024 Some 30 years in the making, and found in Haa Dhaalu, the Maldives’ most remote atoll, the new exclusive resort, which opened last month, has a focus on ‘rare experiences’ and could now be the most ultra-luxe destination to book in the region. Angelina Villa-Clarke, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Details: Features an atoll beach with amenities including a marina, snack bar, barbecue grills, rental picnic shelter, a playground and lifeguards. Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Tuvalu consists of nine coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. Keiran Smith, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Jan. 2024 The Brando, the famously picturesque luxury beach resort on a remote private atoll in French Polynesia, is thousands of miles away from busy Paris. Dobrina Zhekova, Travel + Leisure, 11 Mar. 2024 In American Samoa, a group of seven islands and atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, voters have chosen 52-year-old Jason Palmer as their Democratic nominee over incumbent President Joe Biden with a decisive 51-40 vote. USA TODAY, 6 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'atoll.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Divehi (Indo-Aryan language of the Maldive Islands) atolu

First Known Use

1625, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of atoll was in 1625


Dictionary Entries Near atoll

Cite this Entry

“Atoll.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ˈa-ˌtȯl How to pronounce atoll (audio) -ˌtäl How to pronounce atoll (audio)
: a coral island consisting of a coral reef surrounding a lagoon

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