noun (1)
cra·​ter | \ ˈkrā-tər How to pronounce crater (audio) \
plural craters

Definition of crater

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : the bowl-shaped depression around the orifice of a volcano
b : a depression formed by an impact (as of a meteorite)
c : a hole in the ground made by the explosion of a bomb or shell
2 : an eroded lesion
3 : a dimple in a painted surface
4 Crater, astronomy : a constellation that is visible between the constellations of Corvus and Hydra and that is represented by the figure of a cup Both the cup and the snake are here in the sky. If you have dark enough skies, you can spot the faint stars of Crater the cup and Hydra the snake to the right of Corvus.— Kevin D. Conod


cratered; cratering; craters

Definition of crater (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to exhibit or form craters
2 : to fail or fall suddenly and dramatically : collapse, crash the deal cratered cratering stock prices

transitive verb

: to form craters in


noun (2)

less common spelling of

: a jar or vase of classical antiquity having a large round body and a wide mouth and used for mixing wine and water

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Other Words from crater

Noun (1)

craterlike \ ˈkrā-​tər-​ˌlīk How to pronounce craterlike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of crater in a Sentence

Verb The deal cratered when neither party could agree on the final price. Stock prices cratered after the companies' merger.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The planned sample collection area, dubbed Nightingale, is a rugged 66-foot-wide crater near Bennu’s north pole. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Is About to Touch an Asteroid," 19 Oct. 2020 The crash left a large crater in a heavily wooded area in the village of Corbu and spread pieces of aircraft for hundreds of yards, according to Sheriff Sheron. Kelly Murray And Ganesh Setty, CNN, "Steve Barnes, founder of the famed law firm Cellino and Barnes, dies in plane crash," 3 Oct. 2020 Their idea was to recreate Arecibo on the moon by suspending an antenna from the lip of a crater and using the basin as a reflector. Daniel Oberhaus Supercluster, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Astronomers Want to Build a SETI Observatory on the Moon," 2 Oct. 2020 To probe the origin of these materials, Lyons and her colleagues examined samples from the crater and two sites in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "An asteroid didn’t kill the dinosaurs by itself. Earth helped.," 30 Sep. 2020 Last year, scientists measured the depths of a dark crater on the surface of our moon and found that temperatures dropped to about 33 kelvin, according to New Scientist. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "The Weirdly Nihilistic Reason Why Outer Space Is So Cold," 25 Sep. 2020 Environmental devastation accelerated after the 1880s when metal deposits were found along a crater formed by a prehistoric meteorite impact. Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "The Sudbury model: How one of the world’s major polluters went green," 24 Sep. 2020 How could such a massive crater go undiscovered for so long? Jessica Poitevien, Travel + Leisure, "100-million-year-old Meteorite Crater Discovered in Australia Is One of the Largest in the World," 8 Sep. 2020 In 2016, researchers working in the Gulf of Mexico drilled into the Chicxulub crater, the scar left behind by the asteroid impact, buried under the sea floor. Katherine Kornei, Science | AAAS, "After an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, ocean microbes helped life rebound," 15 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Big Creek had adjusted to the pandemic, which caused timber sales for new-home construction to crater but brought a flurry of new business from do-it-yourself home projects. Heather Somerville, WSJ, "This Small Lumber Company Beat Back a Blaze. Rebuilding Is a Bigger Battle.," 14 Oct. 2020 The travel restrictions would see France’s already struggling tourism industry to crater. Fox News, "France declares Paris, Marseille at-risk zones for coronavirus," 14 Aug. 2020 The mission would launch in 2031 at the earliest, and would bring one hundred grams of material from the bottom of Occator crater back to Earth. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "NASA Mission Shows Dwarf Planet Ceres Is Geologically Active," 13 Aug. 2020 The airport closed down one wing of its international terminal in April after the coronavirus pandemic caused demand for international flights to crater. Anna Kramer,, "United Airlines, big SFO employer, may lay off 36,000 workers," 8 July 2020 The state’s four-year universities are holding their breath hoping that their fall enrollments don’t crater. oregonlive, "Community college enrollment craters in spring quarter, schools hope for usual recessionary bounce," 6 June 2020 Obama was already beginning to emerge from political hibernation to endorse Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential bid when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the U.S., killing more than 100,000 people, and the economy began to crater. Time, "Obama Holds Town Hall Event as Nation Confronts a Confluence of Crises," 4 June 2020 Obama was already beginning to emerge from political hibernation to endorse Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential bid when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the U.S., killing more than 100,000 people, and the economy began to crater. Julie Pace, Anchorage Daily News, "Obama steps out as nation confronts confluence of crises," 4 June 2020 The next week, the City of Detroit began working on a nine-month-long streetscape project out front on Livernois, cratering sales at Mitchell's upstart business by an estimated 70%. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Table No. 2, a black-owned fine dining restaurant in Detroit, loses its home," 6 June 2020

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

Noun (1)

1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1884, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for crater

Noun (1)

borrowed from Latin crātēr, crātēra "mixing bowl, basin of a fountain, bowl-shaped depression around the mouth of a volcano," borrowed from Greek krātḗr "mixing bowl, bowl-shaped depression around the mouth of a volcano," from krā-, variant stem of keránnȳmi, kerannýnai "to mix, mingle (as wine with water)" (going back to Indo-European *ḱerh2-, *ḱr̥h2- "mix," whence also Sanskrit ā́-śīrta- "mixed," Avestan sārəṇtē "[they] meet, unite") + -tēr, instrumental suffix


derivative of crater entry 1

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Time Traveler for crater

Time Traveler

The first known use of crater was in 1613

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Statistics for crater

Last Updated

22 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crater.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for crater



English Language Learners Definition of crater

US, informal : to fail or fall suddenly


cra·​ter | \ ˈkrā-tər How to pronounce crater (audio) \

Kids Definition of crater

1 : the area around the opening of a volcano or geyser that is shaped like a bowl
2 : a hole (as in the surface of the earth or moon) formed by an impact (as of a meteorite)


cra·​ter | \ ˈkrāt-ər How to pronounce crater (audio) \

Medical Definition of crater

: an eroded lesion of a wall or surface ulcer craters

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