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

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 After news of Halperin’s book broke, Regan attempted to bridge the ethical crevasse. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, "The Beltway Book of the Damned," 19 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, Los Angeles Times, "Greenland’s glaciers are melting. It’s as if Earth’s refrigerator door were left open," 20 Aug. 2019 Instead of using the makeshift toilets, many climbers dig a hole in the snow, letting the waste fall into small crevasses. Fox News, "Mount Everest has become an ‘open toilet,’ staggering amount of human waste found on its slopes," 24 June 2019 Some climbers do not use makeshift toilets, instead digging a hole in the snow, letting the waste fall into small crevasses. Washington Post, "30 tents abandoned by climbers add to trash pile on Everest," 24 June 2019 While shallow crevasses can form, faults do not open up during an earthquake, the USGS says. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "No, California won’t get tossed into the ocean by an earthquake — and other myths debunked," 8 July 2019 But getting the top end of the rookie class up to speed will be huge if the Raiders hope to have a shot at getting off to a decent start before falling into a road crevasse that spans from Sept. 22 to Nov. 3. Jerry Mcdonald, The Mercury News, "Raiders camp preview: What will be the “Hard Knocks’ effect?," 22 July 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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Statistics for crevasse

Last Updated

11 Sep 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

crevasse

noun

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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about crevasse

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