noun \-fē\

: the process or skill of making maps

Full Definition of CARTOGRAPHY

:  the science or art of making maps
car·to·graph·ic \ˌkär-tə-ˈgra-fik\ also car·to·graph·i·cal \-fi-kəl\ adjective
car·to·graph·i·cal·ly \-fi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


  1. She studied cartography in college.


French cartographie, from carte card, map + -graphie -graphy — more at card
First Known Use: circa 1847

Other Cartography Terms

Robinson projection, benchmark, plat, projection, topography



noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Art and science of representing a geographic area graphically, usually by means of a map or chart. Political, cultural, or other nongeographic features may be superimposed. Ptolemy's eight-volume Geography showed a flat, disc-shaped projection of part of the Earth. Medieval European maps followed Ptolemy's guide but placed east at the top of the map. In the 14th century more-accurate maps were developed for use in navigation. The first surviving globe dates from 1492. Discovery of the New World led to new techniques in cartography, notably projection of a curved surface onto a flat surface. In particular, Gerardus Mercator projected landmasses onto a cylinder wrapped around the Earth's Equator. Such cylindrical projections maintain proper directions or bearings, though they cause distortions in distances at high latitudes. Contour maps show relief by connecting points of equal elevation with lines, mean sea level being the reference point. Modern cartography uses aerial photography and satellite radar for a degree of accuracy previously unattainable. Satellites have also made possible the mapping of features of the Moon and of several planets and their moons. See also geographic information system; global positioning system.


cartography or mapmaking


Next Word in the Dictionary: cartomancy
Previous Word in the Dictionary: cartographic unit
All Words Near: cartography

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up cartography? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More