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[surk] /sɜrk/
circle; ring.
a bowl-shaped, steep-walled mountain basin carved by glaciation, often containing a small, round lake.
Origin of cirque
1595-1605; < French < Latin circus; see circus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cirque
  • Others simply relax in the sun-washed glacial cirque and bask in the presence of the peak.
  • cirque serves up this kind of thing as an appetizer, not the main course.
  • Often a terminal, or end, moraine marking the foot of a cirque dams a small mountain lake called a tarn.
  • cirque glaciers are usually the remnants of much larger valley glaciers.
  • It has a good elevation range which extends from the cirque floor to, in one section, the surrounding ridge top.
  • During both glaciations coverage was confined mainly to upper valley channels and cirque basins, leaving many areas ice-free.
British Dictionary definitions for cirque


Also called corrie, cwm. a semicircular or crescent-shaped basin with steep sides and a gently sloping floor formed in mountainous regions by the erosive action of a glacier
(archaeol) an obsolete term for circle (sense 11)
(poetic) a circle, circlet, or ring
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Latin circus ring, circle, circus
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 cirque

c.1600, "a circus," from French cirque (14c.), from Latin circus (see circus). Cf. Italian and Spanish circo.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cirque in Science
A steep, amphitheatre-shaped hollow occurring at the upper end of a mountain valley, especially one forming the head of a glacier or stream. Cirques are formed by the erosive activity of glaciers and often contain a small lake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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