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 There is a crash, an exchange of fire, and the alarming sight of McBride’s rover slewing over the lip of a crater. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“Ad Astra” Will Leave You Awed, Confused, and Sad," 13 Sep. 2019 Steam explosions sculpted a new crater, while a bulge emerged on the volcano’s north flank. Shannon Hall, New York Times, "We’re Barely Listening to the U.S.’s Most Dangerous Volcanoes," 9 Sep. 2019 After not making a public appearance for weeks and being rumored dead, the president of Turkmenistan appeared on state television and drove a rally car around The Gates of Hell, a crater of gas that has been burning since it was discovered in 1971. Dan Baum, Harpers Magazine, "September 2019," 19 Aug. 2019 In 1973, a crater on the moon was also named after him. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "The man who established India’s space programme and its premier B-school turns 100," 11 Aug. 2019 Scientists have discovered that a growing pond of water inside a crater is being heated by the Kilauea volcano. USA TODAY, "Smokey Bear, tarantula trek, censoring Adam and Eve: News from around our 50 states," 9 Aug. 2019 Strickland’s absence is going to leave a crater on the Park Blocks and in important corners of our city., "Canzano: Death of Deante Strickland will never make sense," 2 Aug. 2019 The theory gained even more steam when scientists were able to link the extinction event to a huge impact crater along the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Victoria Jaggard, National Geographic, "Why did the dinosaurs go extinct?," 31 July 2019 Back in April, Hayabusa2 blasted a crater into Ryugu’s surface, exposing material from the inside of the asteroid to space. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Watch a Japanese spacecraft grab another sample from an asteroid," 27 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In recent polls, Harris has cratered to just 3 percent, falling behind Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Whither Kamala Harris? A Failed-State Senator’s Failing Campaign," 31 Oct. 2019 The market for such veteran hitters has cratered because of how those lines in the above chart have flipped. Tom Verducci,, "MLB's First-Year Stars Are Historically Great This Season," 9 Sep. 2019 The island’s economy has cratered in the past few decades, and recent immigrants to the U.S., who are poorer than their predecessors, are fleeing a different place. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "The Fight for the Latino Vote in Florida," 16 Sep. 2019 Shares of Tocagen cratered 78 percent to close at 93 cents a share Thursday. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Brain cancer drug from San Diego’s Tocagen fails late-stage testing, shares dive," 12 Sep. 2019 Shares of L Brands, its parent company, have cratered since 2015; sales at stores have dropped; and the brand has been forced to reckon with shifting consumer tastes, executive turnover and new competition. Sapna Maheshwari, New York Times, "Victoria’s Secret Had Troubles, Even Before Jeffrey Epstein," 6 Sep. 2019 Icebergs, shot from below and above the surface, look variously like bizarre marine animals, or cratered planets, or Picasso sculptures. Peter Keough,, "In Focus: Water, water everywhere, and many thoughts to think," 27 Aug. 2019 The oil embargo and banking sanctions, imposed after Trump pulled out of the deal, have been cratering the Iranian economy. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 25 July 2019 Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes would finish the same game, but he was dealt an ankle sprain in the first half when the pocket cratered fast. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Rivers rolls on for Chargers while young AFC QBs nurse injuries," 9 Sep. 2019

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

27 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Crater.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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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