noun wa·ter·shed \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌshed , ˈwä- \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of watershed

1 : a crucial dividing point, line, or factor : turning point
2 a : a region or area bounded peripherally by a divide and draining ultimately to a particular watercourse or body of water
b : divide 2a



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Examples of watershed in a Sentence

  1. The show will not air until after the nine o'clock watershed.

  2. a watershed moment in her life came when she inherited a reasonable sum of money and was able to start her own coffee shop

Recent Examples of watershed from the Web

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

watershed Has Geographic Origins

Opinion on the literal geographic meaning of "watershed" is divided. On one side of the debate are those who think the word can only refer to a ridge of land separating rivers and streams flowing in one direction from those flowing in the opposite direction. That's the term's original meaning, one probably borrowed in the translation of the German Wasserscheide. On the other side of the argument are those who think "watershed" can also apply to the area through which such divided water flows. The latter sense is now far more common in America, but most Americans have apparently decided to leave the quarrel to geologists and geographers while they use the term in its figurative sense, "turning point."

First Known Use of watershed


in the meaning defined at sense 2b

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WATERSHED Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of watershed for English Language Learners

  • : a time when an important change happens

  • : a line of hills or mountains from which rivers drain : a ridge between two rivers

  • : the area of land that includes a particular river or lake and all the rivers, streams, etc., that flow into it

WATERSHED Defined for Kids


noun wa·ter·shed \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌshed , ˈwä- \

Definition of watershed for Students

1 : a dividing ridge (as a mountain range) separating one drainage area from others
2 : the whole area that drains into a lake or river

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excessive admiration or flattery

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