Monday, 14 July 2014

Crevasse & Crevice - What's the difference?

A snowy mountain scene with a warning sign for crevasses
Photo by Yardley


Noun. Early 19th century.
[French (Old French) crevace. See crevice.]

1 A (usually deep) fissure or chasm in the ice of a glacier;
transferred a deep crack or chasm. E19

2 A breach in the bank or levee of a river, canal, etc. US. E19

A large split in a rock formation with numerous crevices on both sides
Photo by Blake Bentley


[Old French crevace (modern crevasse noun), from crever to burst, split, from Latin crepare rattle, crack, break with a crash.]

1 An opening produced by a crack, especially in rock, a building, etc.;
a cleft; a fissure; a chink. ME

2 specifically MINING. A fissure in which a deposit or ore or metal is found. M19

Crevasse and crevice, being of the same derivation and sounding somewhat similar, are commonly confused, but the difference is quite simple. A crevasse is a deep fissure, roughly synonymous with both chasm and abyss, and traditionally refers to plunging breaches one can find in glaciers. A crevice, on the other hand, is a much smaller aperture, usually in rock, and its synonyms crack, cleft and chink well illustrate the difference in scale. To remember the difference, just note that crevasse is the bigger of the two words, just as crevasse is the bigger of the two formations.

Do please crack a comment in the box below before you split.


  1. Your avoision of bum jokes in this post is nothing short of heroic.

    1. My thoughts exactly ;)
      Glad I understood the differences though, Eddie. Much appreciated.

    2. It was tough, Dave. I usually like a cheeky bum pun, but I thought the discerning Lexi readers would dig a couple geology puns.

    3. Fault free article as always Ed. You rock!

    4. Aww. When I first read that, A.N, I thought: "Wow! What a genuinely nice complimentary comment on the work I do at Lexicolatry." And then I realised: "Fault free," "you rock." You were just loading it with rock puns, weren't you? Taking the the proverbial seismic. I'm rutted.

  2. The puns are killer, and so is this article! Thanks for the help :)

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