An archipelago from above.


From Italian arcipelago, formed on the basis of Ancient Greek ἀρχι- (arkhi-, main) + πέλαγος (pélagos, sea), a designation for the Aegean Sea. The Aegean Sea is a sea with many islands; the term Arcipelago, originally a proper noun referring to the Aegean Sea, was first generalized to a common noun for any sea with many islands, and then to the islands in such a sea.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɑːkɪˈpɛləɡəʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌɑɹkɪˈpɛləˌɡoʊ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: ar‧chi‧pe‧la‧go


archipelago (plural archipelagos or archipelagoes)

  1. (now rare) The Aegean Sea.
    • 1791, Charlotte Smith, Celestina, Broadview 2004, p. 413:
      [I]n his imagination he had settled his route, through Holland and France to Sicily, which he had long wished to see, and from thence to the Archipelago [] .
  2. (collective) A group of islands.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      For many years past the whaleship has been the pioneer in ferreting out the remotest and least known parts of the earth. She has explored seas and archipelagoes which had no chart, where no Cook or Vancouver had ever sailed.
  3. (by extension) Something scattered around like an archipelago.
    The Gulag Archipelago

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archipelago m (plural archipelagos)

  1. Obsolete spelling of arquipélago (used in Portugal until September 1911 and in Brazil until the 1940s).