cre·​vasse kri-ˈvas How to pronounce crevasse (audio)
: a breach in a levee
: a deep crevice or fissure (as in a glacier or the earth)
The climber narrowly missed slipping into a crevasse.

Did you know?

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"?

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The crevasse is estimated to be about 160 feet deep. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2023 The findings indicate that melting is proceeding more slowly than expected on the flat portions but occurring more rapidly in cracks and crevasses that extend upward into the glacier. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Feb. 2023 Mountaineering in South Asia Typically over a minimum of five to seven days, a good mountaineering course will cover rope work, scrambling, orienteering, crevasse rescues, route and risk assessment, snow and glacier traverses, and group communication. Jessica Wynne Lockhart, Outside Online, 25 Apr. 2020 The heart-stopping video captures 36-year-old Les Powtos happening upon a deceptive circle in the Alps that quickly crumbles into a crevasse and plummets the experienced skier into darkness. Sarah Rumpf-whitten, Fox News, 22 Apr. 2023 Two climbers were rescued from the same mountain on Tuesday, per reports, and another hiker fell into a crevasse but was later rescued. Laura Barcella, Peoplemag, 19 Apr. 2023 The area is the Khumbu Icefall, a constantly shifting glacier with deep crevasses and huge overhanging ice that can be as big as 10-story buildings. Binaj Gurubacharya, USA TODAY, 13 Apr. 2023 The Gulkana, Gakona and Canwell glaciers all have loose snow covering unseen crevasses. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Apr. 2023 The craft discovered crevasses and stair-like fractures in the ice that are speeding up erosion. George Petras, USA Today, 16 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crevasse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, from Old French crevace — see crevice

First Known Use

1813, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of crevasse was in 1813

Dictionary Entries Near crevasse

Cite this Entry

“Crevasse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


cre·​vasse kri-ˈvas How to pronounce crevasse (audio)
: a deep crevice (as in a glacier)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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