continental divide

continental divide

noun
1.
a divide separating river systems that flow to opposite sides of a continent.
2.
(initial capital letters) (in North America) the line of summits of the Rocky Mountains, separating streams flowing toward the Gulf of California and the Pacific from those flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay, and the Arctic Ocean.

Origin:
1865–70, Americanism

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Collins
World English Dictionary
continental divide
 
n
the watershed of a continent, esp (often caps.) the principal watershed of North America, formed by the Rocky Mountains

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
continental divide  
A region of high ground, from each side of which the river systems of a continent flow into different continental-scale drainage basins. ◇ In North America, the Continental Divide is a series of mountain ridges stretching from Alaska to Mexico, marking the separation of drainage basins that empty into the Pacific Ocean or Bering Sea from those that empty into the Arctic or Atlantic Oceans or the Gulf of Mexico.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

continental divide definition


An imaginary geographic line defined by the fact that water poured on one side of it would ultimately flow into the ocean on one side of a continent, while water poured on the other side of the line would flow into the ocean on the other side of the continent.

Note: In North America, the continental divide is located in the Rocky Mountains.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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