from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A steep bowl-shaped hollow occurring at the upper end of a mountain valley, especially one forming the head of a glacier or stream. Also called cwm.
  • n. A ring; a circle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A curved depression in a mountainside with steep walls, forming the end of a valley.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A circle; a circus; a circular erection or arrangement of objects.
  • n. A kind of circular valley in the side of a mountain, walled around by precipices of great height.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A circus.
  • n. A circle; specifically, a circle regarded as inclosing any space or surrounding any object or group of objects.
  • n. Same as comb.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a steep-walled semicircular basin in a mountain; may contain a lake


French, from Latin circus, circle; see circle.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French cirque, from Latin circus ("ring, circle"), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (“to turn, to bend”) [2]. (Wiktionary)



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  • A cirque is an amphitheatre-like valley, or valley head, formed at the head of a glacier by erosion. A cirque is also known as a cwm in Wales, a coomb or coombe in England, and a corrie in Scotland and Ireland, although these terms apply to a specific feature of which several may be found in a cirque.

    January 26, 2008