crevasse

noun
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.

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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 There was an imaginary obstacle, a crevasse or a river, and the animals were helping one another across. Joseph O’neill, The New Yorker, "The Flier," 4 Nov. 2019 The challenge to alpine plant aficionados is to provide perfect drainage; these plants cling to life in crevasses between rocks, with very little water. Bonnie Blodgett, Twin Cities, "Bonnie Blodgett: As the inside season arrives, here are some tips to help us all get along," 2 Nov. 2019 As the music plays, Anna can be seen climbing through a dark cave, jumping over a crevasse and eventually finding a way out. Ashley Boucher, PEOPLE.com, "Kristen Bell Shares a Sneak Peek of Her New Frozen 2 Song 'The Next Right Thing'," 15 Oct. 2019 But the continuous measurements have begun to reveal, for example, the extent to which sea ice dropped by Helheim inhibits later calving and how crevasses open and spread. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019 Pure white ice could conceal a deep crevasse that leads to a cold and deadly plunge. Seth Borenstein, The Denver Post, "Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland," 21 Aug. 2019 Pure white ice could conceal a deep crevasse that leads to a cold and deadly plunge. Seth Borenstein, The Denver Post, "Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland," 21 Aug. 2019 Pure white ice could conceal a deep crevasse that leads to a cold and deadly plunge. Seth Borenstein, The Denver Post, "Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland," 21 Aug. 2019 Pure white ice could conceal a deep crevasse that leads to a cold and deadly plunge. Seth Borenstein, The Denver Post, "Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland," 21 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for crevasse

Time Traveler

The first known use of crevasse was in 1813

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Statistics for crevasse

Last Updated

20 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Crevasse.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crevasse. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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More Definitions for crevasse

crevasse

noun
How to pronounce crevasse (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of crevasse

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on crevasse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crevasse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crevasse

Spanish Central: Translation of crevasse

Nglish: Translation of crevasse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about crevasse

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