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Etymology 1[edit]

First coined 1613, from Latin crātēr (basin), from Ancient Greek κρᾱτήρ (krātḗr, mixing-bowl, wassail-bowl).



crater (plural craters)

  1. (astronomy) A hemispherical pit created by the impact of a meteorite or other object. [from 1831]
    Synonym: astrobleme
  2. (geology) The basin-like opening or mouth of a volcano, through which the chief eruption comes; similarly, the mouth of a geyser, about which a cone of silica is often built up. [from 1610s]
  3. (informal) The pit left by the explosion of a mine or bomb. [from 1839]
  4. (informal, by extension) Any large, roughly circular depression or hole.
  5. (historical) Alternative spelling of krater (vessel for mixing water and wine)
    • 1941, Louis MacNeice, The March of the 10,000:
      The people of those parts lived in underground houses - more of dug-outs - along with their goats and sheep and they had great craters full of wine, barley-wine, that they drank through reeds.
Derived terms[edit]
See also[edit]



crater (third-person singular simple present craters, present participle cratering, simple past and past participle cratered)

  1. To form craters in a surface (of a planet or moon).
  2. To collapse catastrophically; to become devastated or completely destroyed.
    Synonyms: implode, hollow out
    2008 November 25, David Letterman, “‘The Economy Is Exploding’”, in NYTimes blog[1]:
    Yup, John McCain said to me the economy “is about to crater.” You folks worried about the economy? Whoo! Not me.
    2020 August 6, Kate Conger, “Uber’s Revenue Craters, as Deliveries Surge in Pandemic”, in New York Times[2]:
    Uber said on Thursday that its ride-hailing business had cratered in the second quarter as people traveled less in the pandemic.
  3. (snowboarding) To crash or fall.
    He cratered into that snow bank about five seconds after his first lesson.

Etymology 2[edit]



crater (plural craters)

  1. (Scotland, Ireland) Alternative form of creature.
    • 1843, William Hamilton Maxwell, Wild Sports of the West: With Legendary Tales, and Local Sketches, R. Bentley, page 77:
      I then had the two best tarriers beneath the canopy; this poor crater is their daughter," and he patted the dog's head affectionately.
    • 1772, David Garrick, The Irish Widow, published 1859, page 611:
      She is a charming crater; I would venture to say that, if I was not her father.
    • 1872, Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree
      Then why not stop for fellow-craters -- going to thy own father's house too, as we be, and knowen us so well?
Usage notes[edit]

This term is still commonly used in speech but rarely appears in modern writing.




Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Ancient Greek κρᾱτήρ (krātḗr, mixingbowl, wassail-bowl), from κεράννυμι (keránnumi, to mix, to mingle, to blend)



crātēr m (genitive crātēris or crātēros); third declension

  1. A basin or bowl for water or for mixing.
  2. The opening of a volcano.


Third-declension noun (non-Greek-type or Greek-type, normal variant).

Case Singular Plural
Nominative crātēr crātērēs
Genitive crātēris
Dative crātērī crātēribus
Accusative crātērem
Ablative crātēre crātēribus
Vocative crātēr crātērēs



  • crater in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • crater in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • crater in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • crater in William Smith, editor (1854, 1857) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, volume 1 & 2, London: Walton and Maberly
  • crater in William Smith et al., editor (1890) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London: William Wayte. G. E. Marindin