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continental divide

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noun
  1. a divide separating river systems that flow to opposite sides of a continent.
  2. (initial capital letters) (in North America) the line of summits of the Rocky Mountains, separating streams flowing toward the Gulf of California and the Pacific from those flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, and the Arctic Ocean.
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Origin of continental divide

An Americanism dating back to 1865–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for continental divide

continental divide

noun
  1. the watershed of a continent, esp (often caps.) the principal watershed of North America, formed by the Rocky Mountains
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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

continental divide in Science

continental divide

  1. A region of high ground, from each side of which the river systems of a continent flow into different continental-scale drainage basins.♦ In North America, the Continental Divide is a series of mountain ridges stretching from Alaska to Mexico, marking the separation of drainage basins that empty into the Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea from those that empty into the Arctic or Atlantic Oceans or the Gulf of Mexico.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

continental divide in Culture

continental divide

An imaginary geographic line defined by the fact that water poured on one side of it would ultimately flow into the ocean on one side of a continent, while water poured on the other side of the line would flow into the ocean on the other side of the continent.

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Note

In North America, the continental divide is located in the Rocky Mountains.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.