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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Major changes The Aetna-CVS mashup is just the latest tectonic shift in the health care industry. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "DOJ approves $69B CVS-Aetna merger as healthcare industry restructures," 11 Oct. 2018 The tunnel is engineered to withstand a once-in-2,500 year earthquake, when tectonic plates slip in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "What will the Highway 99 tunnel opening mean for bus routes, detours and tsunamis? We answer those questions and more," 12 Dec. 2018 The earth’s mantle consists of an interlocking puzzle of tectonic plates. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Earth’s Crust Is Swallowing Way More Ocean Than We Thought," 15 Nov. 2018 The civil rights movement had a tectonic effect on the American political landscape, sorting black voters into the Democratic Party and pushing racially conservative white Southerners to defect to the GOP. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war," 7 Nov. 2018 Mexico’s western coast is a tectonic plate boundary, where the oceanic plate collides with and dives beneath the continent. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "2017 earthquake off Mexico broke through an entire tectonic plate," 4 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tectonic

Dictionary Entries near tectonic








Statistics for tectonic

Last Updated

25 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tectonic

The first known use of tectonic was in 1894

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tectonic



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

More from Merriam-Webster on tectonic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tectonic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tectonic

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).


likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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