noun, plural ar·chi·pel·a·gos, ar·chi·pel·a·goes.

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 formsar·chi·pe·lag·ic [ahr-kuh-puh-laj-ik] /ˌɑr kə pəˈlædʒ ɪk/, ar·chi·pe·la·gi·an [ahr-kuh-puh-ley-jee-uh n, -juh n] /ˌɑr kə pəˈleɪ dʒi ən, -dʒən/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for archipelago

peninsula, reef, enclave, islet, isle, sanctuary, bar, shelter, retreat, key, haven, refuge, atoll, cay

Examples from the Web for archipelago

Contemporary Examples of archipelago

Historical Examples of archipelago

  • It lies near the sea, as it were at the head of the Archipelago.

  • They should have left the island to leeward, heading into the Caribbean and away from the archipelago.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • The vroucolacas of Greece and the Archipelago are again revenans of a new kind.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • In that story I had not gone back to the Archipelago, I had only turned for another look at it.

    Notes on My Books

    Joseph Conrad

  • Morrison knew no more of Heyst than the rest of us trading in the Archipelago did.


    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for archipelago


noun plural -gos or -goes

a group of islands
a sea studded with islands
Derived Formsarchipelagic (ˌɑːkɪpəˈlædʒɪk) or archipelagian (ˌɑːkɪpəˈleɪdʒɪən), adjective

Word Origin for archipelago

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

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

archipelago in Science



A large group of islands.
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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

archipelago in Culture



A group of islands near one another.

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