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  1. mud consisting chiefly of decomposed organic matter formed at the bottom of a stagnant sea or lake.

Origin of sapropel

1905–10; sapro- + -pel < Greek pēlós mud
Related formssap·ro·pel·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for sapropel


  1. an unconsolidated sludge consisting of the decomposed remains of aquatic organisms, esp algae, that accumulates at the bottoms of lakes and oceans
Derived Formssapropelic, adjective

Word Origin

C20: from sapro- + -pel from Greek pēlos mud
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

sapropel in Science


  1. An unconsolidated ooze consisting mainly of putrefied plant remains and found in anaerobic areas at the bottom of swamps, lakes, and shallow seas.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.