hy·​po·​lim·​ni·​on ˌhī-pō-ˈlim-nē-ˌän How to pronounce hypolimnion (audio)
plural hypolimnia ˌhī-pō-ˈlim-nē-ə How to pronounce hypolimnion (audio)
: the part of a lake below the thermocline made up of water that is stagnant and of essentially uniform temperature except during the period of overturn

Word History


hypo- + Greek límnē "standing water, pool, marshy lake" + -ion, noun suffix — more at limnetic

Note: The term was introduced, along with epilimnion, by the American limnologist Edward A. Birge (1851-1950) in "On the evidence for temperature seiches," Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters, vol. 16, part 2 (1910), p. 1005: "I employ two new words in this paper, which seem convenient in writing of the temperature and other phenomena of lakes. These terms are epilimnion, for the upper warm layer of water which develops in the lake in summer, and hypolimnion, for the older colder water." The formative -ion could be read as a Greek diminutive suffix, but this meaning is not specified by Birge (who says nothing of the etymology) and does not fit the context. Possibly Birge took -ion as the Greek equivalent of the Latin compounding suffix -ium.

First Known Use

1910, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hypolimnion was in 1910

Dictionary Entries Near hypolimnion

Cite this Entry

“Hypolimnion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypolimnion. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

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