me·​sa ˈmā-sə How to pronounce mesa (audio)
: an isolated relatively flat-topped natural elevation usually more extensive than a butte and less extensive than a plateau
also : a broad terrace with an abrupt slope on one side : bench

Examples of mesa in a Sentence

a mesa in the Arizona desert
Recent Examples on the Web There’s an undeniable, palpable sense of adventure in this American Southwest region; the towering mesas (and Ford Motor Company) beckoned me to come. Alexandra Cheney, Travel + Leisure, 20 Nov. 2023 Backcountry My son grew up in this pack, which carried him everywhere from the mountains of Colorado to the hot barren mesas of Chaco Canyon. Scott Gilbertson, WIRED, 20 Nov. 2023 The first full gram of element 94 arrived on Los Alamos's mesas in April 1944. Sarah Scoles, Scientific American, 14 Nov. 2023 Residents of North City West looking for a more appealing name picked Carmel Valley in 1991. Landmarks: The community’s master plan called for development only on the mesa tops, leaving the canyons untouched to provide open space and recreation. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Oct. 2023 Cool Arizona getaways:Mountains, lakes and a chilly cave trek to try this summer Where to see wildflowers in Flagstaff Buffalo Park: Perched atop a mesa not far from downtown Flag, Buffalo Park is a favorite of locals in all seasons. Roger Naylor, The Arizona Republic, 6 July 2023 In the nineteen-seventies, an Italian architect named Paolo Soleri built his own south-facing labyrinthian cliff dwelling into the side of a mesa outside Phoenix, hoping to construct a new kind of ecologically and desert-mindful city. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, 6 Sep. 2023 All said, the state agency wants to remove more than 7,000 acres of its lands from Bluff, mostly within a sandstone mesa known as Bluff Bench on the northeast part of town. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Sep. 2023 One of the most spectacular instances of indoor-outdoor architecture in the Southwest can be found on a hill north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the edge of a rugged landscape of mountains, mesas, and arroyos. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 14 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Spanish, literally, table, from Latin mensa

First Known Use

1840, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of mesa was in 1840

Dictionary Entries Near mesa

Cite this Entry

“Mesa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


me·​sa ˈmā-sə How to pronounce mesa (audio)
: a flat-topped hill or small plateau with steep sides

Spanish, literally, "table"

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Me·​sa ˈmā-sə How to pronounce Mesa (audio)
city east of Phoenix in southwest central Arizona population 439,041

More from Merriam-Webster on mesa

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