cre·vasse | \kri-ˈvas \

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.

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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

Dropping into that crevasse likely saved their lives. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Weeks after her wedding day, a Polish climber survives a 1,000-foot slide from a Denali ridge," 6 June 2018 Inside the crevasse, Czarnecka waved at the helicopter above. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Weeks after her wedding day, a Polish climber survives a 1,000-foot slide from a Denali ridge," 6 June 2018 The dangers are still there: the crevasses are deep and the slopes are unpredictable. Washington Post, "Sherpa guide tries to reach top of the world for 22nd time," 11 Apr. 2018 The victims’ bodies cannot be recovered as they are entombed in a deep crevasse under glacial ice in the national park. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "Summer solstice is here and Trump’s halt to family separations brings confusion, big questions | Thursday Morning Brief, June 21," 22 June 2018 By the evening of Saturday, March 10, the possibility that Johnson and Leclerc were still alive, stuck in a crevasse somewhere that hadn’t been searched yet, brought a small glimmer of hope and a whirlwind of activity to the rescue operation. Matt Skenazy, Outside Online, "The Last Days of Marc-André Leclerc," 19 June 2018 Ladders are used to cross the deep crevasses in the Khumbu Icefall. Alan Arnette, Outside Online, "Sherpas Fall Into Crevasse on Everest," 11 May 2018 After spending the night in the crevasse, Paleski was able to hike back to camp and provide an update on Czarnecka’s condition. Michelle Gant, Fox News, "Bride survives 1,000-foot fall on honeymoon in Denali," 7 June 2018 Both climbers slid 1,000 feet, then dropped about 10 feet into a crevasse on Peters Glacier. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Weeks after her wedding day, a Polish climber survives a 1,000-foot slide from a Denali ridge," 6 June 2018

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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Statistics for crevasse

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for crevasse

The first known use of crevasse was in 1813

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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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