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[tek-ton-ik] /tɛkˈtɒn ɪk/
of or relating to building or construction; constructive; architectural.
  1. pertaining to the structure of the earth's crust.
  2. referring to the forces or conditions within the earth that cause movements of the crust.
  3. designating the results of such movements:
    tectonic valleys.
Origin of tectonic
1650-60; < Late Latin tectonicus < Greek tektonikós pertaining to construction, equivalent to tekton- (stem of téktōn) carpenter + -ikos -ic
Related forms
tectonically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tectonic
  • Port-au-Prince sits near the border of two tectonic plates.
  • Most volcanoes form at the junctions of tectonic plates.
  • Many of the world's largest earthquakes take place at subduction zones where tectonic plates collide, forcing one under the other.
  • Set atop a tectonic hotspot, the small island is home to breathtaking eruptions and other geologic sites.
  • They will also be used for measuring the movement of ice flows, glaciers and tectonic plates.
  • These studies confirmed plate tectonic theories of sea floor spreading and continental drift.
  • Depositional slope systems develop in various tectonic environments and under various conditions.
  • Next people will be blaming human activity for tectonic plate movement.
  • However, building nuclear power plants on an island adjacent to an active tectonic zone is inherently dangerous.
  • It is true that drilling can relieve stress on the tectonic plates and allow for shifting.
British Dictionary definitions for tectonic


denoting or relating to construction or building
  1. (of landforms, rock masses, etc) resulting from distortion of the earth's crust due to forces within it
  2. (of processes, movements, etc) occurring within the earth's crust and causing structural deformation
Derived Forms
tectonically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Late Latin tectonicus, from Greek tektonikos belonging to carpentry, from tektōn a builder
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 tectonic

1650s, "of or relating to building," from Late Latin tectonicus, from Greek tektonikos "pertaining to building," from tekton (genitive tektonos) "builder, carpenter," from PIE root *tek- "to make" (see texture). The geological sense is recorded from 1894.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tectonic in Science
Relating to the forces involved in plate tectonics or the structural features resulting from them.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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