Definition of cay in English:


Pronunciation /kiː//keɪ/


  • A low bank or reef of coral, rock, or sand, especially one on the islands in Spanish America.

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    • ‘There are about 50 islands and cays (most of which are uninhabited) in the US Virgin Islands, which lie about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico.’
    • ‘Instead, the uniform azure of the sea was broken only by the colours of the coral cays: turquoise, tourmaline, amethyst and lapis lazuli.’
    • ‘Parola Island and the Lawak, Panata and Rizal Reefs are among a group of islands, reefs and cays claimed by the Philippines in the Spratlys.’
    • ‘The archipelago consists of approximately seven hundred islands and cays, plus nearly 2,400 reefs and rock formations.’
    • ‘Here we are a nation just some islands and cays just 100 miles away from the richest superpower in the world, and we don't have running water everywhere.’
    • ‘Heron is a tiny Barrier Reef coral cay, of only 17 hectares, in the Capricornia Group of islands of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.’
    • ‘If you're a non-swimmer, take a tour that brings you to a coral cay rather than the open sea.’
    • ‘The Pandora survivors managed to climb aboard tenders and reach the safety of a sand cay.’
    • ‘Free-spirited British adventurers were believed to have settled illicitly within the cays and reefs of a coast once claimed by Spain.’
    • ‘On one of these cays the social behavior and population dynamics of the species have been studied for over 30 years.’
    • ‘It has more than 1,000 islands, from sandy cays to rainforest isles, and supports prolific marine life.’
    • ‘There are over 700 islands and 3,000 cays in the Bahamas.’
    • ‘How policy trickles down from UNESCO headquarters in Europe to a sand cay on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef half a world away is something else entirely.’
    • ‘Low Isles make the most minimal of archipelagos; just two islands; the one, a small sunny cay of coral sand, and the other, a dark wilderness of mangroves.’
    • ‘But many of the 700 islands and 2,000 cays that make up the archipelago are either uninhabited or have much smaller-scale tourism.’
    • ‘Many of the experts agree that the future of the lizard populations will depend on the fate of the lizards on these cays (islands).’
    • ‘You can enjoy brilliant corals, pristine cays, white sandy beaches and endless marine life.’
    • ‘Nansha is contested by PRC, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines and comprises 104 islands, reefs, cays and banks.’
    • ‘The Abacos are a group of islands and cays stretching across 30 miles of shallow sparkling water.’
    • ‘Boobies that nest on the ground, the masked gannet and the brown booby, are also found on remote cays of the Great Barrier Reef.’
    shoal, bar, sandbar, sandbank, spit
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Late 17th century: from Spanish cayo ‘shoal, reef’, from French quai ‘quay’.