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See more synonyms for cirque on Thesaurus.com
  1. circle; ring.
  2. a bowl-shaped, steep-walled mountain basin carved by glaciation, often containing a small, round lake.
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Origin of cirque

1595–1605; < French < Latin circus; see circus
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for cirque

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The hour's walk from the village to the Cirque is an event also in the life of the flower-lover.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • These avalanches were once believed to be the authors of the cirque.

  • The cirque, therefore, is at once the product of the glacier and its generator and conserver.

  • Is the cirque under these circumstances a result of the schrund or is the schrund a result of the cirque?

  • A cirque (fig. 8) is shaped something like an office arm-chair.

    Modern Geography

    Marion I. Newbigin

British Dictionary definitions for cirque


  1. Also called: corrie, cwm a semicircular or crescent-shaped basin with steep sides and a gently sloping floor formed in mountainous regions by the erosive action of a glacier
  2. archaeol an obsolete term for circle (def. 11)
  3. poetic a circle, circlet, or ring
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Word Origin

C17: from French, from Latin circus ring, circle, circus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cirque


c.1600, "a circus," from French cirque (14c.), from Latin circus (see circus). Cf. Italian and Spanish circo.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cirque in Science


  1. A steep, amphitheatre-shaped hollow occurring at the upper end of a mountain valley, especially one forming the head of a glacier or stream. Cirques are formed by the erosive activity of glaciers and often contain a small lake.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.