Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

continental drift

noun
  1. Geology. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates.
Show More

Origin of continental drift

First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for continental drift

continental drift

noun
  1. geology the theory that the earth's continents move gradually over the surface of the planet on a substratum of magma. The present-day configuration of the continents is thought to be the result of the fragmentation of a single landmass, Pangaea, that existed 200 million years agoSee also plate tectonics
Show More
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 continental drift

1925, a translation of German Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880-1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c.1950.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

continental drift in Science

continental drift

  1. A theory stating that the Earth's continents have been joined together and have moved away from each other at different times in the Earth's history. The theory was first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912. While his general idea of continental movement eventually became widely accepted, his explanation for the mechanism of the movement has been supplanted by the theory of plant tectonics. See more at plate tectonics.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

continental drift in Culture

continental drift

A term, no longer used by geologists, that refers to the fact that continents are not stationary, but move across the Earth's surface. Continental drift is one feature of the modern theory of plate tectonics. (See Pangaea.)

Show More
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.