watershed

noun
wa·ter·shed | \ˈwȯ-tər-ˌshed, 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

b : divide sense 2a

Keep scrolling for more

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

Yes, leaving more water to flow into the delta from both the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds will be challenging for water users…. George Skelton, latimes.com, "What do Southern Californians really get out of Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels project?," 12 July 2018 Ellicott City and the Chesapeake watershed demonstrate the challenges of responding to a changing climate and the impacts of human activity. Bill Gourgey, WIRED, "How Artificial Intelligence Could Prevent Natural Disasters," 10 July 2018 Although genetics is often discussed when considering trophy fish and game, there is no definitive walleye study to indicate a certain area or watershed of Wisconsin has a superior genetic make-up for big fish. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: The Wisconsin walleye record has stood since 1933. These five waters have the best potential to top it.," 25 May 2018 The purpose of the contest was to promote awareness of the recreational activities at Wolf Lake and the need to protect the watershed. Staff Report, Post-Tribune, "Community news," 24 May 2018 Other regions where new rules have been put in place include those whose watersheds feed into Buzzards Bay in New England, the Delaware River and the Great Lakes. Lara Korte, WSJ, "Developers Go With the Flow as New Water Rules Kick In," 10 July 2018 Both watersheds are on Indiana Department of Environmental Management's list of impaired waterways, due to high levels of nutrients and sediment. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "In Hendricks County, Ronald Reagan Parkway extension pits science against growth," 9 July 2018 But the entire watershed is densely developed; Wormser says the association will act as a convener to bring together cities and towns to strategize for future floods, identifying vulnerabilities and applying for grants and loans to shore things up. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "Gearing up for climate change along the Mystic River," 29 June 2018 The areas along those watersheds need attention sooner than later, explained Bower. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Fecal waste targeted in West Fork water quality improvement plan," 21 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of watershed

1764, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about watershed

Listen to Our Podcast about watershed

Statistics for watershed

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for watershed

The first known use of watershed was in 1764

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for watershed

watershed

noun

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

: 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, 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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on watershed

What made you want to look up watershed? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!