Geology. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates.
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Compare plate tectonics.
Origin of continental drift
First recorded in 1925–30
Words nearby continental drift
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for continental drift
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
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
Scientific definitions for continental drift
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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Cultural definitions for 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.)
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.