di·​lu·​vi·​al | \ də-ˈlü-vē-əl How to pronounce diluvial (audio) , dī- \
variants: or diluvian \ də-​ˈlü-​vē-​ən How to pronounce diluvial (audio) , dī-​ \

Definition of diluvial

: of, relating to, or brought about by a flood

Did you know?

Late Latin diluvialis means "flood." It’s from Latin diluere ("to wash away") and ultimately from "lavere" ("to wash"). English "diluvial" and its variant "diluvian" initially referred to the Biblical Flood. Geologists, archaeologists, fossilists, and the like used the words, beginning back in the mid-1600s, to mark a distinct geological turning point associated with the Flood. They also used "antediluvian" and "postdiluvian" to describe the periods before and after the Flood. It wasn’t until the 1800s that people started using "diluvial" for floods and flooding in general. American educator and essayist Caroline M. Kirkland, one early user of this sense, wrote, "Much of our soil is said to be diluvial - the wash of the great ocean lakes as they overflowed towards the south," in her essay Forest Life in 1850.

Examples of diluvial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Seas will be higher, rain more diluvial and storms fiercer. The Economist, 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'diluvial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of diluvial

circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for diluvial

Late Latin diluvialis, from Latin diluvium deluge — more at deluge

Learn More About diluvial

Time Traveler for diluvial

Time Traveler

The first known use of diluvial was circa 1656

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About diluvial

Dictionary Entries Near diluvial




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for diluvial

Cite this Entry

“Diluvial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/diluvial. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!