continental drift

  theory that the land mass of the earth was once held as a single continent which has since split into segments which have drifted apart and into the modern configuration of the continents. Proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, based on observed matches in the shape of continents, their geology and biological history, it was rejected as no satisfactory mechanism could be postulated. Has regained favour, though modified, in plate tectonics theory.

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  • continental drift — Drift Drift, n. [From {drive}; akin to LG. & D. drift a driving, Icel. drift snowdrift, Dan. drift, impulse, drove, herd, pasture, common, G. trift pasturage, drove. See {Drive}.] 1. A driving; a violent movement. [1913 Webster] The dragon drew… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Continental drift — the movements of continents relative to each other across the Earth s surface; see {plate tectonics}. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • continental drift — n [U] the very slow movement of the ↑continents across the Earth s surface …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • continental drift — noun uncount TECHNICAL the very gradual movement of CONTINENTS across the Earth s surface …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • continental drift — 1925, a translation of Ger. Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880 1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c.1950 …   Etymology dictionary

  • continental drift — ► NOUN ▪ the gradual movement of the continents across the earth s surface through geological time …   English terms dictionary

  • continental drift — n. the theory that continents slowly shift their positions as a result of currents in the molten rocks of the earth s mantle, plate tectonics, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Continental drift — This article is about the development of the continental drift hypothesis before 1958. For the contemporary theory, see plate tectonics. Antonio Snider Pellegrini s Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean (1858). Continental drift is …   Wikipedia

  • continental drift — Geol. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates. Cf. plate tectonics. [1925 30] * * * Large scale movements of continents over the course of geologic time. The first complete theory of continental drift was… …   Universalium

  • continental drift — noun the gradual movement and formation of continents (as described by plate tectonics) • Hypernyms: ↑geological phenomenon * * * noun [noncount] technical : the very slow movement of the continents on the surface of the Earth * * * ˌcontinental… …   Useful english dictionary

  • continental drift — N UNCOUNT Continental drift is the slow movement of the Earth s continents towards and away from each other …   English dictionary

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