continental drift


Definition of continental drift

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

Examples of continental drift in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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 This causes different things—not just earthquakes and volcanoes, but also continental drift and the consequent destruction and recreation of crust. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 9 Dec. 2020 As the continent slowly shifted northward — because of continental drift — from 55 to about 34 million years ago, more seasonal plants appeared, creating forests. Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2020 When continental drift broke Pangaea apart, the ginkgo vanished from North America. Clive Thompson, The Atlantic, 9 Oct. 2020 Two hundred million years ago, with the continental drift? Marion Renault, The New Republic, 6 Oct. 2020 Natural selection depends on unpredictable mutations, and once a species emerges, its fate can be influenced by all sorts of forces, from viral outbreaks to continental drift, volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts. Quanta Magazine, 17 July 2014

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.

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First Known Use of continental drift

1926, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for continental drift

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The first known use of continental drift was in 1926

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Last Updated

1 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Continental drift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for continental drift

continental drift


English Language Learners Definition of continental drift

: the very slow movement of the continents on the surface of the Earth

More from Merriam-Webster on continental drift Encyclopedia article about continental drift


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