[ma-seef, mas-if; French ma-seef]


a compact portion of a mountain range, containing one or more summits.
a large elevated block of old complex rocks resistant to both erosion and crustal folding.
a band or zone of the earth's crust raised or depressed as a unit and bounded by faults.

Origin of massif

1515–25; < French, noun use of massif massive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for massif

Historical Examples of massif

  • The two next highest are at the right, or eastern, end of the massif.

    Inca Land

    Hiram Bingham

  • Above the plain, which sweeps away from the northern bank, rises the "massif" of Laon.

    America's War for Humanity

    Thomas Herbert Russell

  • It rests on the western side on the Massif de Moronvillers; to the east it stretches as far as the Argonne.

  • Didron thus describes it: Cet anneau est en or massif; il pese 14 gram.

    Finger-Ring Lore

    William Jones

  • From the top a vast plateau stretches to the lofty chain which forms the inland rim of the Andean massif.

British Dictionary definitions for massif



a geologically distinct mass of rock or a series of connected masses forming the peaks of a mountain range
a topographically high part of the earth's crust that is bounded by faults and may be shifted by tectonic movements

Word Origin for massif

C19: from French, noun use of massif massive
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 massif

"cluster of hills," 1520s, from French massif (see massive), here used as a noun in French; e.g. the Massif Central, name of the plateau in the middle of southern France.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for massif



A large mountain mass or compact group of connected mountains forming an independent portion of a range. A massif often consists of rocks that are more rigid than the surrounding rocks.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.