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

While shallow crevasses can form, faults do not open up during an earthquake, the USGS says. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "No, California won’t get tossed into the ocean by an earthquake — and other myths debunked," 8 July 2019 While shallow crevasses can form, faults do not open up during an earthquake, the USGS says. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "No, California won't get tossed into the ocean by an earthquake -- and other myths debunked," 7 July 2019 However, rising temperatures have thinned the glacier, leaving fewer and smaller crevasses. Fox News, "Mount Everest has become an ‘open toilet,’ staggering amount of human waste found on its slopes," 24 June 2019 Atop Svínafellsjökull, the tongue of one of Europe’s largest glaciers, explore chasms and crevasses sculpted by meltwater and see the moraine created by the glacier’s bulldozing power. National Geographic, "Iceland Hiking Adventure," 12 June 2019 The route requires a rounded skill set for climbers, who need to be familiar with roped travel over glaciated terrain, crevasse rescue and ice climbing, among other advanced techniques. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "4 climbers stranded since Monday rescued from treacherous route on Mount Rainier," 6 June 2019 Just as a mountaineer can be confronted by an unsurpassable crevasse, mathematicians can fail, too. Quanta Magazine, "The Subtle Art of the Mathematical Conjecture," 7 May 2019 Two enormous crevasses are predicted to intersect in the coming months. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Iceberg Twice the Size of Manhattan Soon to Break Free of Antarctic Shelf," 8 Apr. 2019 It’s this dynamic of fast and slow moving sections that creates ice seracs that are over 30 feet high and crevasses, some of which are over 150 feet deep. Alan Arnette, Outside Online, "Sherpas Injured in Everest's Khumbu Icefall," 26 Apr. 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

17 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for crevasse

The first known use of crevasse was in 1813

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More Definitions for crevasse



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with crevasse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crevasse

Spanish Central: Translation of crevasse

Nglish: Translation of crevasse for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about crevasse

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an act or instance of editing or removing

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