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


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

This model for the craters could actually help showcase different periods of warming and cooling on the moon. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Lakes on Saturn's moon may be explosion craters," 11 Sep. 2019 Learning where the Moon came from, and about the craters there. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "What it was like to fly the baddest airplane the world has ever known," 16 Sep. 2019 Explore bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, and the craters of dormant volcanoes. National Geographic, "Iceland Expedition: Land of Fire and Ice," 15 Sep. 2019 Gulick and his team concluded — from the abundance of sulfur-rich rocks near the crater and their absence within it — that the asteroid must have vaporized any sulfur previously present. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "First illustration of asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs," 11 Sep. 2019 The Chicxulub crater is located offshore from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Fox News, "Day the dinosaurs died: Asteroid impact site reveals devastation from power of 10 billion A-bombs," 10 Sep. 2019 Rock cores pulled from the famed Chicxulub crater off the coast of Mexico have revealed what the dinosaurs’ last day on Earth would have been like 66 million years ago. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "The Terrifying Final Hours of the Dinosaurs' Reign on Earth," 10 Sep. 2019 Immense Chicxulub crater is a remnant of one of the most consequential days in the history of life on Earth. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "What Happened the Day a Giant, Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Hit the Earth," 9 Sep. 2019 The roughly $140 million mission, known as Chandrayaan-2, was intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008. Washington Post, "India loses touch with lander on its final approach to moon," 9 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Without a stable place to spend the winter months, the butterfly population could crater. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "Seeing more Monarchs? Your milkweed garden might be working.," 19 Aug. 2019 That continues a tough run for Netflix's shares, which also cratered on weak subscriber growth in mid-July, even without competition from Disney. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "The Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Hulu Bundle Is the First Bomb Dropped in the Video Streaming War," 7 Aug. 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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Statistics for crater

Last Updated

13 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for crater

The first known use of crater was in 1613

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on crater

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crater

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crater

Spanish Central: Translation of crater

Nglish: Translation of crater for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crater for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about crater

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a bell tower

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