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 But that yawning crevasse could narrow in the months ahead. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Suffering Emerging Markets Can Bounce Back From the Depths," 20 Nov. 2020 Has this inspired you to fall deeper into the aesthetic treatment crevasse? Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "Gwyneth Paltrow is “Very Much a Libra,” Approaching 50, and Injecting Toxin in Her Face," 17 Sep. 2020 That Steffen, a man with decades of walking and working and sleeping on glaciers, died in a crevasse shows Truffer that anything can happen. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Remembering the glaciologist whose research on the Greenland ice sheet, where he died, showed dramatic changes," 22 Aug. 2020 Occasionally, one foot plunges past waxy leaves to my shin as if breaking through a snow bridge across a crevasse. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "The tree at the bottom of the world—and the wind-blasted trek to find it," 7 July 2020 Matthew Bunker was found dead Monday in a crevasse at the base of a cliff by search helicopters and climbing rangers, according to a news release from the National Park Service. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "The body of one of three missing men has been found on Mount Rainier," 30 June 2020 And neutron stars fall smack in the middle of that theoretical crevasse, prompting astrophysicists to spend decades wondering what happens to neutrons in their cores. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Why are big neutron stars like Tootsie Pops?," 5 June 2020 From an altitude of 310 miles, the laser has been able to see down into crevasses in the ice sheet and measure their depth and width. Jon Gertner, Scientific American, "How a New Wave of Orbiting Sentinels Is Changing Climate Science," 6 Jan. 2020 Often guided by tips from local villagers, Shi and her colleagues had to hike for hours to potential sites and inch through tight rock crevasses on their stomach. Jane Qiu, Scientific American, "How China’s “Bat Woman” Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus," 11 Mar. 2020

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

3 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Crevasse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for crevasse


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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