tec·​ton·​ic | \ tek-ˈtä-nik How to pronounce tectonic (audio) \

Definition of tectonic

1 : of or relating to tectonics
2 : having a strong and widespread impact a tectonic shift in voting patterns

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Other Words from tectonic

tectonically \ tek-​ˈtä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce tectonically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of tectonic in a Sentence

There has been a recent tectonic shift in voting patterns. a tectonic shift in societal trends occurred in the 1960s

Recent Examples on the Web

But future maps might uncloak such tectonic features. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Venus, Earth’s Evil Twin, Beckons Space Agencies," 12 June 2019 Those faults are part of a major tectonic boundary in Southern California between the Santa Monica Mountains to the north and the Los Angeles Basin to the south. Rong-gong Lin Ii, latimes.com, "Earthquake: 3.6 quake shakes Ventura County," 12 June 2019 Fox said the earthquake was caused by tectonic stress and strain. Mary Kilpatrick, cleveland.com, "Could heavy rain have caused Cleveland earthquake?," 10 June 2019 For 30 years, the CCP has maintained remarkable stability, escaping some fallout of the global financial crisis and evading the tectonic uprisings that shook many other parts of the world. Laignee Barron / Hong Kong, Time, "How the Tiananmen Square Massacre Changed China Forever," 4 June 2019 Hawaii is formed from what's known as hotspot volcanism; each island represents a boil that formed above a deep plume of molten rock, popping up in a chain as the overlying tectonic plate inches along. National Geographic, "Strange waves rippled around Earth. Now we may know why.," 21 May 2019 That internal furnace provides Earth's magnetic field and its geography on the whole—everything from foothills to volcanoes to earthquakes owe their genesis to heat at a tectonic level. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "To Understand How the Earth Formed, and How It Might Disappear, NASA Is Drilling on Mars," 21 Feb. 2019 Others looked for unusual cloud formations, or tried to calculate when other planets might align to push the Earth’s tectonic plates. James Hookway, WSJ, "Quake Expectations: We’re Getting Better at Anticipating the Next Big Tremor," 28 Feb. 2019 In geology, when tectonic plates shift, earthquakes follow. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, "Why the electoral battlefield is expanding," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tectonic.' 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 tectonic

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tectonic

Late Latin tectonicus, from Greek tektonikos of a builder, from tektōn builder — more at technical

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Statistics for tectonic

Last Updated

17 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for tectonic

The first known use of tectonic was in 1894

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English Language Learners Definition of tectonic

geology : of or relating to changes in the structure of the Earth's surface
: having a large and important effect

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Comments on tectonic

What made you want to look up tectonic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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