\ ˈa-ˌtȯl How to pronounce atoll (audio) , -ˌtäl, -ˌtōl, ˈā- How to pronounce atoll (audio) \

Definition of atoll

: a coral island consisting of a reef surrounding a lagoon

Illustration of atoll

Illustration of atoll

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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 On April 27, an operator on a coast guard ship near the Sabina Shoal — an atoll in the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and China — challenged seven Chinese ships. Washington Post, 25 June 2021 My mom told me this was called an atoll, a kind of island made of coral. New York Times, 15 June 2021 From January to March, almost 70,000 Indians visited the atoll nation, accounting for 23% of the market share and doubling the number of Indian holidaymakers in the whole of 2020, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Nectar Gan, CNN, 7 May 2021 Among them, look at the cluster in the Thaa atoll, one of the larger parcels at 42 acres, and Laamu, another group where each of the islands comes with land reclamation rights. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 25 May 2021 About 100 miles south of Zanzibar and sublimely serene, the entire atoll contains a fraction of the hotel beds (a mere 300 compared to Zanzibar's 10,000). Melanie Van Zyl, Travel + Leisure, 16 May 2021 The Cook Islands are an atoll, and the barrier reef is what protects the island from giant waves coming from very deep water. Dalton Ross,, 14 May 2021 Many of the Chinese vessels have left Whitsun, about 175 nautical miles (325 kilometers) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, but several have remained moored in the area, part of a shallow atoll partly occupied by China and Vietnam. Jim Gomez, Star Tribune, 4 May 2021 The former teacher ended up on the stunning pink atoll while attempting to sail from Italy to Polynesia. Tamara Hardingham-gill, CNN, 27 Apr. 2021

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

1625, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for atoll

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

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atom beam

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Last Updated

9 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Atoll.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for atoll



English Language Learners Definition of atoll

: an island that is made of coral and shaped like a ring


\ ˈa-ˌtȯl How to pronounce atoll (audio) , -ˌtäl \

Kids Definition of atoll

: a ring-shaped coral island consisting of a coral reef surrounding a lagoon

More from Merriam-Webster on atoll

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for atoll

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


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