Ant·arc·ti·ca (ănt-ärktĭ-kə, -ärtĭ-)
A continent lying chiefly within the Antarctic Circle and asymmetrically centered on the South Pole. Some 95 percent of Antarctica is covered by an icecap averaging 1.6 km (1 mi) in thickness. The region was first explored in the early 1800s, and although there are no permanent settlements, many countries have made territorial claims. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959, signed by 12 nations, prohibited military operations on the continent and provided for the interchange of scientific data.
Ant·arctic adj. & n.
Usage Note: When pronounced carefully, Antarctica has two (t) sounds and two (k) sounds. In our 2005 survey, over three-fourths of the Usage Panel stated that the pronunciation in which the (t) sound is dropped from the first syllable is incorrect. A similar percentage disapproved of dropping the first (k) sound. Nevertheless, the consonant clusters in many English words (among them handkerchief and raspberry) have been simplified, so it should not be surprising that Antarctica should undergo a similar simplification, at least when pronounced in a conversational tempo.
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