watershed

noun
wa·​ter·​shed | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌshed How to pronounce watershed (audio) , ˈwä- \

Definition of watershed

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

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Other Words from watershed

watershed adjective

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."

Examples of watershed in a Sentence

The show will not air until after the nine o'clock watershed. 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 on the Web The watershed, a system of rivers and brooks that feed lakes, is key to canal operations and also supplies freshwater to Panama City, home to about half the country’s population of 4 million. Washington Post, "Panama Canal announces freshwater surcharge amid scant rains," 13 Jan. 2020 The watershed, a system of rivers and brooks that feed lakes, is key to canal operations and also supplies freshwater to Panama City, home to about half the country’s population of 4 million. Juan Zamorano, BostonGlobe.com, "Panama Canal announces freshwater surcharge amid scant rains," 13 Jan. 2020 That includes areas of land known as catchments—also called watersheds—where rainfall begins its earthly journey into specific rivers, lakes, and dams. National Geographic, "Australia's raging fires will create big problems for fresh drinking water," 10 Jan. 2020 Since 2003, Rae Schnapp has been the Wabash Riverkeeper, which covers the watershed to the north of Flickner’s as part of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Cincinnati.com, "Fighting pollution and apathy on the Lower Ohio, it’s not easy being a Southern Indiana Waterkeeper," 6 Jan. 2020 The bay is about 413 square miles in area but is fed by a watershed that covers two-thirds of Alabama, some 45,000 square miles. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "Coast Guard moves training out of Mobile Bay after swimmers get sick," 19 Nov. 2019 Another four justices disagreed, noting that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that the entire watershed is key to each navigable water. Lucia Walinchus, Cincinnati.com, "The water is cleaner but the politics are messier: The Clean Water Act movement after 50 years," 27 Dec. 2019 That’s about 70 miles northwest from the new discoveries and in a different watershed that empties into the Mississippi River. Steve Karnowski, Twin Cities, "Invasive silver carp confirmed for first time in southwestern Minnesota," 20 Dec. 2019 That’s about 70 miles northwest from the new discoveries and in a different watershed that empties into the Mississippi River. Washington Post, "Invasive silver carp confirmed for 1st time in SW Minnesota," 20 Dec. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of watershed

1764, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

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Time Traveler for watershed

Time Traveler

The first known use of watershed was in 1764

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Statistics for watershed

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Watershed.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/watershed. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for watershed

watershed

noun
How to pronounce watershed (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of watershed

: a time when an important change happens
: a line of hills or mountains from which rivers drain : a ridge between two rivers
chiefly US : the area of land that includes a particular river or lake and all the rivers, streams, etc., that flow into it

watershed

noun
wa·​ter·​shed | \ ˈwȯ-tər-ˌshed How to pronounce watershed (audio) , ˈwä- \

Kids Definition of watershed

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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