la·​va | \ˈlä-və, ˈla- \

Definition of lava 

: molten rock that issues from a volcano or from a fissure in the surface of a planet (such as earth) or moon also : such rock that has cooled and hardened

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Other Words from lava

lavalike \ˈlä-​və-​ˌlīk, ˈla-​ \ adjective

Examples of lava in a Sentence

a flow of molten lava

Recent Examples on the Web

Guatemala’s most violent volcanic eruption in more than 100 years sent lava flowing into rural communities Monday, leaving at least 65 people dead. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Guatemala volcano eruption kills at least 65, forces thousands to evacuate," 2 Oct. 2018 The robots have already provided data on the length of the lava flow into the Pacific Ocean. Lilly Price, USA TODAY, "Robots dive into Hawaii's lava-filled ocean searching for marine life," 28 June 2018 The area affected by Kilauea’s lava flow encompasses only 9.5 square miles – on an island that’s about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Gabby Raymond, Time, "Hawaiians Blame Misunderstanding of Volcano and 'Doomsday' Headlines for Big Drop in Tourism," 21 June 2018 These nearly perfectly spherical stones started life in a volcanic lava flow. Barbara Henry,, "Geode collectors depend on skill, luck to pick out special pieces," 20 June 2018 Despite barricades and warnings of dangerous gas emissions, people continue to sneak in to see and photograph the lava flow. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Hawaiian Tourists Face Up to $5,000 Fine for Taking Volcano Pictures," 18 June 2018 The enchiladas are topped with a lava flow of cheese and served with Spanish rice and smoky charro beans. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "A Killen’s Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston?," 12 June 2018 Imagery taken by our WorldView-3 satellite from June 3, 2018 shows the active lava flows approaching Kapoho Bay. Doris Elin Salazar,, "See Lava Flows from Hawaii's Kilauea Change Paths in New Satellite Photos," 12 June 2018 No one has died in this Hawaii eruption but some 600 homes have been swallowed by lava flows from Kilauea since May 3, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said last week. Anchorage Daily News, "Explosion at Hawaii volcano spews ash as lava flows into sea," 11 June 2018

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

1759, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for lava

Italian, ultimately from Latin labes fall; akin to Latin labi to slide — more at sleep

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Statistics for lava

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lava

The first known use of lava was in 1759

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More Definitions for lava



English Language Learners Definition of lava

: melted rock from a volcano


la·​va | \ˈlä-və, ˈla-\

Kids Definition of lava

: melted rock coming from a volcano or after it has cooled and hardened

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More from Merriam-Webster on lava

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lava

Spanish Central: Translation of lava

Nglish: Translation of lava for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about lava

Comments on lava

What made you want to look up lava? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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