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[moun-tn] /ˈmaʊn tn/
a natural elevation of the earth's surface rising more or less abruptly to a summit, and attaining an altitude greater than that of a hill, usually greater than 2000 feet (610 meters).
a large mass of something resembling this, as in shape or size.
a huge amount:
a mountain of incoming mail.
(initial capital letter) a steam locomotive having a four-wheeled front truck, eight driving wheels, and a two-wheeled rear truck.
Also called mountain wine. British Archaic. a sweet Malaga wine.
of or relating to mountains:
mountain air.
living, growing, or located in the mountains:
mountain people.
resembling or suggesting a mountain, as in size.
make a mountain out of a molehill. molehill (def 2).
1175-1225; Middle English mountaine < Old French montaigne < Vulgar Latin *montānea, noun use of feminine of *montāneus, equivalent to Latin montān(us) mountainous (mont-, stem of mōns mountain + -ānus -an) + -eus adj. suffix
Related forms
mountainless, adjective
submountain, adjective
undermountain, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for mountains
  • For about four weeks a year, she lives in the mountains and chases birds all over the place, trying to collect data.
  • Many people think of mountains only as scenery, and distant scenery at that.
  • He muttered something about hitting the slopes, because the mountains are finally getting some snow.
  • They have portable satellite towers and radios, but the surrounding mountains block the signals.
  • They were sharing a house on the outskirts of a town in the mountains where people went for summer vacation.
  • Only the highest mountains poked through the giant ice sheets.
  • Active volcanoes, however, make up only a small fraction of all mountains of fire.
  • Show students a few pictures of mountains and climbers by exploring these mountain photographs.
  • There were mountains of pure salt, and erupting volcanoes.
  • Vistas of the lake reveal a serene scene surrounded by palatial villas, tree-clad mountains, and quaint villages.
British Dictionary definitions for mountains


  1. a natural upward projection of the earth's surface, higher and steeper than a hill and often having a rocky summit
  2. (as modifier): mountain people, mountain scenery
  3. (in combination): a mountaintop
a huge heap or mass: a mountain of papers
anything of great quantity or size
a surplus of a commodity, esp in the European Union: the butter mountain
(Brit, informal) a mountain to climb, a serious or considerable difficulty or obstruction to overcome
make a mountain out of a molehill, See molehill (sense 2)
Word Origin
C13: from Old French montaigne, from Vulgar Latin montānea (unattested) mountainous, from Latin montānus, from mons mountain


the Mountain, an extremist faction during the French Revolution led by Danton and Robespierre
Word Origin
C18: so called because its members sat in the highest row of seats at the National Convention Hall in 1793
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
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Word Origin and History for mountains



c.1200, from Old French montaigne (Modern French montagne), from Vulgar Latin *montanea "mountain, mountain region," noun use of fem. of *montaneus "of a mountain, mountainous," from Latin montanus "mountainous, of mountains," from mons (genitive montis) "mountain" (see mount (n.)).

Until 18c., applied to a fairly low elevation if it was prominent (e.g. Sussex Downs, the hills around Paris). As an adjective from late 14c. Mountain dew "raw and inferior whiskey" first recorded 1839; earlier a type of Scotch whiskey (1816); Jamieson's 1825 "Supplement" to his Scottish dictionary defines it specifically as "A cant term for Highland whisky that has paid no duty." Mountain-climber recorded from 1839; mountain-climbing from 1836.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mountains in Science
A generally massive and usually steep-sided, raised portion of the Earth's surface. Mountains can occur as single peaks or as part of a long chain. They can form through volcanic activity, by erosion, or by uplift of the continental crust when two tectonic plates collide. The Himalayas, which are the highest mountains in the world, were formed when the plate carrying the landmass of India collided with the plate carrying the landmass of China.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with mountains
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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