continental drift


: a slow movement of the continents on a deep-seated viscous zone within the earth compare plate tectonics

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In highly simplified terms, continental drift occurs because only a relatively small proportion of the Earth’s substance is solid matter. Jack Feerick, Discover Magazine, 25 Oct. 2020 As late as 1958, a book rejecting continental drift included a foreword by Albert Einstein. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 18 Feb. 2021 Wegener was the meteorologist who proposed the idea of continental drift, an idea resoundingly rejected at the time by geologists. Jeffrey Wilkerson, Discover Magazine, 22 Jan. 2016 States will continue to shift their political allegiance at roughly the pace of continental drift. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 28 Nov. 2022 Didn’t have much to do, what with his offense moving like continental drift. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Oct. 2022 Eons in advance, then, cartographers and earth scientists are clocking continental drift and fantasizing about new worlds. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 26 Oct. 2021 The revolutionary theory of continental drift advanced by Alfred Wegener in 1912, was rejected by mainstream geologists for four decades and only became popular after the mechanism of plate tectonics was recognized. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, 3 June 2021 The heat is from Earth’s molten interior, which causes continental drift. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 15 Mar. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'continental drift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of continental drift was in 1926

Dictionary Entries Near continental drift

Cite this Entry

“Continental drift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

continental drift

: the slow movement of the continents on a fluid layer that extends to deep within the earth

More from Merriam-Webster on continental drift

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