Atolls M-W

The English spelling of the word ‘marshall’ (as opposed to the American spelling of one ‘l’) means an officer connected to public security or, as a verb, to gather together a group of people. The islands are named after the British captain John Marshall, of the HMS Scarborough, who charted much of the island group in 1788. Most of the names of the Marshalls’ atolls and islands can be loosely translated into English, so for your reading pleasure today the following are approximate definitions of these words:



AILUK: Bring (or tie) together

Arno copra shed. Photo: Karen Earnshaw

Arno copra shed. Photo: Karen Earnshawo


ARNO: Lagoon wave
AUR: Door
ENEN KIO (WAKE ISLAND): Orange flower isle.
LIKIEP: Bottom of the basket
MAJURO: Two openings (or eyes, meaning the main passes)
MALOELAP: Large lagoon
MEJIT: Eastern opening
TAKA: Two coral
TAONGI: Frigate bird
UTRIK: Southern flower
WOTJE: Land on which one can overeat


AILINGNAE: Island of currents
AILINGLAPLAP: Very large atoll
BIKINI: Land of many coconuts
EBON: Type of basket, which the atoll is thought to be shaped like
ENEWETAK: Island that moves
JABAT: Very slow
JALUIT: Facing beauty
KILI: Closed
KWAJALEIN: To break (or harvest) the fruit
LAE: Calm water
LIB: Egg (after the shape of Lib island)
NAMDRIK: Small secondary lagoon
NAMU: Secondary lagoon
RONGELAP: Big hole
RONGERIK: Small hole
UJAE: Rough currents
UJELANG: Rough cloudy sky or drown heaven

Go ahead and share!Share on FacebookEmail this to someonePrint this pagePin on Pinterest