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[ahr-kuh-pel-uh-goh] /ˌɑr kəˈpɛl əˌgoʊ/
noun, plural archipelagos, archipelagoes.
a large group or chain of islands:
the Malay Archipelago.
any large body of water with many islands.
the Archipelago, the Aegean Sea.
Origin of archipelago
1495-1505; alteration (archi- for arci-) of Italian arcipelago, alteration of Egeopelago the Aegean Sea < Greek Aigaîon pélagos
Related forms
[ahr-kuh-puh-laj-ik] /ˌɑr kə pəˈlædʒ ɪk/ (Show IPA),
[ahr-kuh-puh-ley-jee-uh n, -juh n] /ˌɑr kə pəˈleɪ dʒi ən, -dʒən/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for archipelago
  • About 22 out of 37 volcanos in the archipelago are active.
  • The domestic shipping industry is vital to the economy of the archipelago, but its history is one of lethal mishaps.
  • Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.
  • There is one situated on each of the two larger islands of the archipelago.
  • About 20 typhoons and storms lash the archipelago annually.
  • This archipelago consists of ten principal islands, of which five exceed the others in size.
  • This archipelago of exposed tops of submarine mountains is more than 625 miles (1000 km) long.
  • Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, with 17000 islands.
  • The islands of this archipelago contain a host of endemic species.
  • Before our eyes, what had been an island on the wall turns into an archipelago.
British Dictionary definitions for archipelago


noun (pl) -gos, -goes
a group of islands
a sea studded with islands
Derived Forms
archipelagic (ˌɑːkɪpəˈlædʒɪk), archipelagian (ˌɑːkɪpəˈleɪdʒɪən) adjective
Word Origin
C16 (meaning: the Aegean Sea): from Italian arcipelago, literally: the chief sea (perhaps originally a mistranslation of Greek Aigaion pelagos the Aegean Sea), from archi- + pelago sea, from Latin pelagus, from Greek pelagos
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for archipelago

c.1500, from Italian arcipelago "the Aegean Sea" (13c.), from Greek arkhipelagos, from arkhi- "chief" (see archon) + pelagos "sea" (see pelagic). The Aegean Sea being full of island chains, the meaning was extended in Italian to "any sea studded with islands." Klein, noting the absence of arkhipelagos in ancient or Medieval Greek (the modern word in Greek is borrowed from Italian) believe it is an Italian mistake for Aigaion pelagos "Aegean Sea" (Medieval Latin Egeopelagus), or influenced by that name.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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archipelago in Science
  1. A large group of islands.

  2. A sea, such as the Aegean, or an area in a sea containing a large number of scattered islands.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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archipelago in Culture
archipelago [(ahr-kuh-pel-uh-goh)]

A group of islands near one another.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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