cre·​vasse | \ kri-ˈvas How to pronounce crevasse (audio) \

Definition of crevasse

1 : a breach in a levee
2 : a deep crevice or fissure (as in a glacier or the earth) The climber narrowly missed slipping into a crevasse.

What's the difference between a crevice and a crevasse?

Crevice and crevasse are very similar words: both come from Old French crever "to break or burst" and both refer to an opening of some kind. In fact, you can say that the only notable distinction between the two is the size of the openings they denote—and that one of them—crevice—is far more common than the other.

A crevice is a narrow opening resulting from a split or crack. In nature, crevices exist mostly in rocks and cliffs, but writers sometimes use the word for similar openings found in other materials, as in "crumbs in the crevices of the cushion." The word also is used metaphorically, as in "the cracks and crevices of memory."

Crevasse refers to a deep hole or fissure in a glacier or in the earth. In most instances, the word appears with enough context that the depth of the opening is easy enough to figure out, as in "a climber who fell 30 feet into a crevasse."

You'll sometimes find crevice used where crevasse is expected—probably because it's the word people are more familiar with. One way to remember the distinction between crevice and crevasse is that the i in crevice, the smaller hole, is a thinner letter than a in crevasse, the larger hole. Or, should you step into a crevasse, perhaps you'll have time for a lot of "Ahhhs"?

Examples of crevasse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While installing the devices, one pilot stepped into a crevasse roughly the size of his leg, Hults said. Emily Mesner, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Nov. 2021 Stay out of the crevasse in the hour after sunset, or the building will eat you. David Guzman, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2021 There is a crevasse in the middle of your residence. David Guzman, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2021 In a shadowy crevasse, a red-nosed clown strummed a banjo in the dark. New York Times, 23 Sep. 2021 The last death in the park from a crevasse fall was in 1992. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2021 The water is cinched into a crevasse between steep mountains, its surface speckled with islands, the edges rimmed with charming medieval villages. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 21 Aug. 2021 Then there was the matter of Tim Carruthers, aka Planky, Anna’s best friend’s husband, who froze to death in a crevasse while out on an unnecessary joyride with Robert. Christopher Tayler, Harper's Magazine, 17 Aug. 2021 Kim is believed to have fallen into a crevasse in bad weather during his descent from the 8,047-meter (26,400-foot) summit of the Himalayas’ Broad Peak mountain, on the border of Pakistan and China. Washington Post, 26 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crevasse.' 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 crevasse

1813, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crevasse

French, from Old French crevace — see crevice

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The first known use of crevasse was in 1813

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Cite this Entry

“Crevasse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of crevasse

: a deep, narrow opening or crack in an area of thick ice or rock


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