The word atoll comes from the Dhivehi (an Indo-Aryan language spoken on the Maldive Islands) word atholhu (Dhivehi: އަތޮޅު, )OED. Its first recorded use in English was in 1625 as atollon - Charles Darwin recognized its indigenous origin and coined, in his The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, the definition of atolls as "..circular groups of coral islets and is synonymous with 'lagoon-island'." (1842, p. 2). More modern definitions of atoll are those of McNeil (1954, p. 396) as "..an annular reef enclosing a lagoon in which there are no promontories other than reefs and islets composed of reef detritus" and Fairbridge (1950, p. 341) "...in an exclusively morphological sense, ...a ring-shaped ribbon reef enclosing a lagoon."
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