Definition of cirque in English:


See synonyms for cirque on


  • 1Geology
    A half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion.

    Also called corrie or cwm

    ‘The fourth and fifth landscape types are alpine landscapes, consisting of branching networks of troughs separated by ridges; and cirque landscapes, in which separate cirques are set in an upland massif.’
    • ‘The cirque valley, which is heavily timbered, is deeply dissected by Portland Creek and its tributaries.’
    • ‘Sitting within a glacial cirque, the 17-room chalet has sweeping vistas of teal Lake McDonald - and the occasional mountain goat.’
    • ‘Broken trees are scattered everywhere; scoured paths lead up mountainsides to mysterious hidden cirques.’
    • ‘As the lava walls of the cirque crumble they expel a constant dribble onto the dirty snow below.’
  • 2 literary A ring, circlet, or circle.

    • ‘The decoration of metal cirques and a network of patchwork cloth highlight extremely simple frocks to show off the figure.’





Late 17th century (in cirque (sense 2)): from French, from Latin circus.