\ 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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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

The entire south side of the atoll appeared to be wiped clean by Walaka, according to Buehler. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Hawaii’s Rapture Reef Was Flattened by Last Year’s Hurricane Walaka," 28 Aug. 2019 Fallout from American nuclear testing had made the atoll uninhabitable, but the Americans had declared it clear, despite a horrifically high rate of stillbirths, deformities and cancers. The Economist, "Obituary: Steve Sawyer died on July 31st," 22 Aug. 2019 Johnston Island, part of the atoll, was a launching pad for U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1960s. Washington Post, "At a glance: Weapons sites converted into wildlife refuges," 18 Aug. 2019 The atoll was evacuated in 1954 but declared safe three years later, and people returned. New York Times, "Steve Sawyer, Greenpeace Activist and Leader, Dies at 63," 7 Aug. 2019 The atoll’s jungle environment made the technical aspects of the project challenging as well. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Denver-based firm goes to work in the middle of the Indian Ocean," 2 Aug. 2019 Some of the atolls and islands have just a few hundred people on them. Helen Regan, CNN, "Parts of Marshall Islands are more radioactive than Chernobyl and Fukushima, study finds," 17 July 2019 The average luxury listing has an asking price of $14,000 a week — but can go as high as $1 million a week for a private atoll near Tahiti that comprises 21 bungalows and a staff of 50., "State DPU approves contracts with Hydro-Quebec," 26 June 2019 In fact, the only locations where the shadow of the eclipse will touch land is Chile, Argentina and Oeno Island, a tiny uninhabited atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Dean Regas,, "Meet the storm in the sky that would engulf Earth if it weren’t 93 million miles away," 13 June 2019

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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Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

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The first known use of atoll was in 1625

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on atoll

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with atoll

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for atoll

Spanish Central: Translation of atoll

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

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