tec·​ton·​ics tek-ˈtä-niks How to pronounce tectonics (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction
: geologic structural features as a whole
: a branch of geology concerned with the structure of the crust of a planet (such as the earth) or moon and especially with the formation of folds and faults in it

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The region is seismically active, the USGS said, and the initial quake appears to have been within the vicinity of a triple-junction of tectonics, between the Anatolia, Arabia and Africa plates. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 6 Feb. 2023 Studying volcanoes means understanding tectonics better, and that means understanding earthquakes better, and that means saving thousands of lives and perhaps billions of dollars. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 13 Feb. 2011 Christopher Jackson studies basin analysis (in other words, how sediment and tectonics creates and fills valleys and depressions on Earth) at Imperial College. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 31 Jan. 2017 These complex tectonics of the island nation mean that much of the country is rugged and mountainous. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 25 June 2018 The purity of the ice shell can impact its strength, ice tectonics and how heat flows through the shell. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 18 Aug. 2022 Plate tectonics has, so far, only been observed on Earth, and may be essential to making a planet livable, Drabon said, which makes the origins of plate motions of interest in research into the early development of life. David Bressan, Forbes, 24 Apr. 2022 Typically, these types of formations need oceans and liquid water, as well as tectonics to form. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 7 June 2022 Binance’s chief executive Changpeng Zhao’s attempts to quell fears that the global crypto market was headed to a crash and that cryptos are still safe investments despite the current price tectonics only attracted more online vitriol. Faustine Ngila, Quartz, 17 May 2022 See More

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

Word History


tecton(ic) + -ics, probably after German Tektonik

First Known Use

1899, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of tectonics was in 1899

Dictionary Entries Near tectonics

Cite this Entry

“Tectonics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tectonics. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


tec·​ton·​ics tek-ˈtän-iks How to pronounce tectonics (audio)
: a branch of geology concerned with the structure of the crust of a planet (as earth) or moon and especially with the formation of folds and faults in it

More from Merriam-Webster on tectonics

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