con·​ur·​ba·​tion ˌkä-(ˌ)nər-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce conurbation (audio)
: an aggregation or continuous network of urban communities

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When Sir Patrick Geddes, a Scottish biologist turned sociologist, sat down in 1915 to write Cities in Evolution, a work on urban planning, he needed a word. How should he refer to thickly populated regions consisting of a sprawling range of cities clustered together? "Some name, then, for these city-regions, these town aggregates, is wanted…. What of 'conurbations'?" he asked rhetorically early on in his work. For his coinage, Geddes combined urbs (the Latin word for "city," already familiar in urban and suburb) with the Latin prefix con- ("together") and the English noun suffix -ation. It turned out that his word suited English speakers just fine-we've been using it ever since.

Examples of conurbation in a Sentence

a conurbation of cities along the river
Recent Examples on the Web This was no easy task in the jumble of a vast nineteenth-century conurbation. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2023 Riyadh Air, based in Saudi Arabia’s namesake capital, a conurbation of 8 million people, will commence flights in 2025, aiming to serve 100 cities by 2030. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 22 Aug. 2023 L’Asile, a conurbation of 52,000 people living mostly in rural communities, was founded in the 1930s. Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2021 Normally this takes an hour and 40 minutes, moving across the greater Los Angeles/Orange County conurbation, but this trip... WSJ, 24 Mar. 2020 Dubai, a remarkable city-emirate grown rich on the foresight of its rulers and the wits of its inhabitants—both native and immigrant—is much the more complex of the two modern conurbations. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 31 Jan. 2020 The Los Angeles Basin is framed by the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountain ranges, which border the urban conurbation to its north and east, the directions the winds are coming from. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 23 Oct. 2019 Proximity of the two capitals – federal and state, respectively—in the Ikoyi and Ikeja neighborhoods of the same conurbation, put more pressure on the city. Ndubisi Onwuanyi, Quartz Africa, 5 Oct. 2019 For 13 seasons the Los Angeles area boasted two NFL teams, fitting for the nation’s second-largest conurbation., 28 Aug. 2019 See More

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

Word History


com- + Latin urb-, urbs city

First Known Use

1915, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of conurbation was in 1915


Dictionary Entries Near conurbation

Cite this Entry

“Conurbation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​ur·​ba·​tion ˌkän-(ˌ)ər-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce conurbation (audio)
: a number of cities or towns that come one right after the other with no countryside in between

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