c.1500, from It. arcipelago
"the Aegean Sea" (13c.), from Gk. arkhipelagos,
"chief" (see archon
) + pelagos
"sea." Aegean Sea being full of island chains, the meaning was extended in It. to "any sea studded with islands." Etymologists, noting the absence of arkhipelagos
in ancient or Med.Gk. (the modern word in Gk. is borrowed from It.) believe it is an It. mistake for Aigaion pelagos
"Aegean Sea" (M.L. Egeopelagus
), or influenced by that name.