One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The raised terrace of coralline limestone typically surrounding South Pacific islands; the annular raised rim of a Pacific island formed by the uplifting of an atoll so that the lagoon is lost.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in Transactions of the New Zealand Institute. From Tuamotuan makatea, a geological feature of the type described below (also the name of an island ( Makatea) in the central south Pacific (Tuamotu Archipelago) surrounded by a feature of this type); compare Rarotongan makatea (with the same meaning), Marquesan makatea to froth, foam, whiten.
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