topography

noun

to·​pog·​ra·​phy tə-ˈpä-grə-fē How to pronounce topography (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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.

Example Sentences

a map of the topography of the coastline shows a significant loss of wetlands
Recent Examples on the Web With a steady supply of multi-million dollar properties dotted across a varied topography, Los Angeles is home to some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, many of which have become household names. Spencer Elliott, Forbes, 14 Aug. 2022 The topography and architecture are not completely accurate. Washington Post, 29 June 2022 Whether islands like in the Caribbean, or mountains in Colombia and Chile, or deserts like in coastal Peru, the topography is varied and challenging for road travel. Ben Baldanza, Forbes, 13 June 2022 The particular area where scientists discovered the sinkhole is known for its karst topography. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 27 May 2022 It’s a topography that shares an uncanny similarity with the surface of the sea. Michael Holtz, The New Yorker, 22 July 2022 After two-plus years of erupting into distinguishable peaks, the American coronavirus-case curve has a new topography: a long, never-ending plateau. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 14 July 2022 Dalton Person, Zone 5 board member, noted the board discussed the area's topography, whether the downhill slope would cause under slab moisture and how that could be mitigated. Monica Brich, Arkansas Online, 4 July 2022 For all its natural abundance, the Everglades today is an artificial landscape, a creature of engineering as much as topography and nature. Richard Mertens, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2022 See More

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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Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near topography

Cite this Entry

“Topography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/topography. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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Medical Definition

topography

noun
to·​pog·​ra·​phy tə-ˈpäg-rə-fē How to pronounce topography (audio)
plural topographies
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 chromosomes Science News
2

More from Merriam-Webster on topography

Last Updated: 17 Aug 2022

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