A cay is an undersized, low-lying island
made up of primarily sand
. It can be pronounced kE
and is derived from the Spanish word cayo
. Taino cayokai
meaning sand bank
. Sometime during the 18th century the spelling was changed to quai
in the French form and then to the Spanish quay with the pronunciation lingering to this day.
A quay is a "shoreline artificially built up with stone (or later, cement) to facilitate loading and unloading of cargo from ships", was originally spelled more like it is pronounced. The modern words quay, cay and key like the Florida Keys all draw from the same root kagh which means "to catch, to seize" with the additional meaning of barrier which has since been passed on to the same "reef, shoal" idea as the Spanish cayo.
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