topography

noun
to·pog·ra·phy | \tə-ˈpä-grə-fē \

Definition of topography 

1a : the art or practice of graphic delineation in detail usually on maps or charts of natural and man-made features of a place or region especially in a way to show their relative positions and elevations

b : topographical surveying

2a : the configuration of a surface including its relief and the position of its natural and man-made features

b : the physical or natural features of an object or entity and their structural relationships the topography of human chromosomes the political topography of our time

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Did You Know?

Topography combines top- with graph-, a root meaning "write" or "describe". The topography of the Sahara Desert features shifting sand dunes and dry, rocky mountains. A topographic (or topo) map not only shows the surface features of a region but also indicates the contours and approximate altitude of every location, by means of numerous curving lines, each indicating a single elevation. In other words, it shows a "three-dimensional" picture on a two-dimensional surface. Topo maps are commonly used by hikers, surveyors, government workers, and engineers, among other people.

Examples of topography in a Sentence

a map of the topography of the coastline shows a significant loss of wetlands

Recent Examples on the Web

And the topography of the state is flatter than a lot of places. Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle, "Hyperloop's first step bypasses Houston," 11 July 2018 The nature of the land surface and the topography are equally critical. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "The second 1,000-year rainstorm in two years engulfed Ellicott City. Here’s how it happened.," 28 May 2018 The craggy topography of Elysian Park has long presented a challenge to transportation planners and Dodgers fans alike. Bill Shaikin, latimes.com, "A gondola from Union Station to Dodger Stadium? It could happen by 2022, Mayor Garcetti says," 26 Apr. 2018 Fans watched in physical discomfort as Bryson DeChambeau consulted his trusty yardage/topography/trigonometry map on every shot, chip and putt. Daniel Rapaport, SI.com, "FORE Questions: On Slow Play, 'Backstopping" and Offbeat U.S. Open Storylines," 11 June 2018 The site slopes to the south with a topography difference of about 10 feet. Phil Diehl, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Parking structure approved for Tri-City Medical Center," 11 July 2018 Like any land mass, the Helheim Glacier has a topography all its own. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "A Stunning Video of a Greenland Iceberg Collapse," 10 July 2018 The map below is huge, but not very detailed: No topography. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Gateway to what?," 28 June 2018 The topography near the County Fire continued to give fire crews trouble, but the largest blaze of the season hadn't grown significantly in a few days. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Deadly Klamathon fire continues to grow near Oregon border," 8 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for topography

Middle English topographie, from Late Latin topographia, from Greek, from topographein to describe a place, from topos place + graphein to write — more at carve

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Last Updated

18 Oct 2018

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The first known use of topography was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for topography

topography

noun

English Language Learners Definition of topography

: the art or science of making maps that show the height, shape, etc., of the land in a particular area

: the features (such as mountains and rivers) in an area of land

topography

noun
to·pog·ra·phy | \tə-ˈpäg-rə-fē \
plural topographies

Medical Definition of topography 

1 : the physical or natural features of an object or entity and their structural relationships the topography of the abdomen the topography (size and fluorescent staining intensity) of human chromosomesScience News

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