\ \ [16] Originally, archipelago was a quite specific term – it was the name of the Aegean Sea, the sea between Greece and Turkey.
\ \ Derivationally, it is a compound formed in Greek from arkhi- ‘chief’ and pélagossea’ (source of English pelagic [17] and probably related to plain, placate, and please). The term ‘chief sea’ identified the Aegean, as contrasted with all the smaller lagoons, lakes, and inlets to which the word pélagos was also applied. An ‘Englished’ form of the word, Arch-sea, was in use in the 17th century, and in sailors’ jargon it was often abbreviated to Arches: ‘An island called Augusto near Paros, in the Arches’, Sir T Roe, Negotiations 1626. A leading characteristic of the Aegean Sea is of course that it contains a large number of islands, and from the 16th century onwards we see a strong and steady move towards what is now the word’s main meaning, ‘large group of islands’.
\ \ The immediate source of the English word was Italian arcipelago, and some etymologists have speculated that rather than coming directly from Greek arkhipélagos, this may have been a sort of folk-etymological resuscitation of it based on a misunderstanding of Greek Aigaion pelagosAegean Sea’.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • Archipelago — Ar chi*pel a*go, n.; pl. { goes} or { gos}. [It. arcipelago, properly, chief sea; Gr. pref ? + ? sea, perh. akin to ? blow, and expressing the beating of the waves. See {Plague}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The Grecian Archipelago, or [AE]gean Sea,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • archipelago — (n.) c.1500, from It. arcipelago the Aegean Sea (13c.), from Gk. arkhipelagos, from arkhi chief (see ARCHON (Cf. archon)) + pelagos sea (see PELAGIC (Cf. pelagic)). The Aegean Sea being full of island chains, the meaning was extended in Italian… …   Etymology dictionary

  • archipelago — ► NOUN (pl. archipelagos or archipelagoes) ▪ an extensive group of islands. ORIGIN from Greek arkhi chief + pelagos sea (originally a name for the Aegean Sea, notable for its large number of islands) …   English terms dictionary

  • archipelago — [är΄kə pel′ə gō΄] n. pl. archipelagoes or archipelagos [It arcipelago < MGr archipelagos, orig., the Aegean Sea < Gr archi , chief + pelagos, sea: see PELAGIC] 1. a sea with many islands 2. a group or chain of many islands archipelagic… …   English World dictionary

  • archipelago — archipelagic /ahr keuh peuh laj ik/, archipelagian /ahr keuh peuh lay jee euhn, jeuhn/, adj. /ahr keuh pel euh goh /, n., pl. archipelagos, archipelagoes. 1. a large group or chain of islands: the Malay Archipelago. 2. any large body of water… …   Universalium

  • Archipelago — An archipelago (PronEng|ɑrkəˈpɛləgoʊ) is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago literally means chief sea , from Italian arcipelago (IPA|artʃiˈpelago) , derived ultimately from Greek arkhon ( arkhi ) ( leader ) and pelagos ( sea ).… …   Wikipedia

  • archipelago — noun (plural goes or gos) Etymology: Archipelago Aegean Sea, from Italian Arcipelago, literally, chief sea, from arci (from Latin archi ) + Greek pelagos sea more at plagal Date: 1589 1. an expanse of water with many scattered islands …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • archipelago — noun /ɑːkɪˈpɛləɡəʊ,ɑːrkəˈpɛləɡoʊ/ a) A group of islands. The Gulag Archipelago b) Something scattered around like an archipelago. See Also: archipelagic …   Wiktionary

  • archipelago — [[t]ɑ͟ː(r)kipe̱ləgoʊ[/t]] archipelagos, archipelagoes (plural) N COUNT An archipelago is a group of islands, especially small islands. ...the Azores, a rugged, volcanic archipelago of nine islands …   English dictionary

  • archipelago — UK [ˌɑː(r)kɪˈpeləɡəʊ] / US [ˌɑrkɪˈpeləɡoʊ] noun [countable] Word forms archipelago : singular archipelago plural archipelagos 1) a large group of small islands 2) a sea or area of ocean with many islands in it …   English dictionary

  • archipelago — ar|chi|pel|a|go [ˌa:kıˈpeləgəu US ˌa:rkıˈpeləgou] n plural archipelagos [Date: 1600 1700; Origin: Archipelago Aegean sea (16 19 centuries), from Italian, main sea , from arci (from Latin archi ; ARCH ) + Greek pelagos sea ] a group of small… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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