ETYM French continence, Latin continentia. Related to Continent, Countenance.
One of the large landmasses of the earth.
Any one of the seven large land masses of the Earth, as distinct from the oceans. They are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. Continents are constantly moving and evolving (see plate tectonics). A continent does not end at the coastline; its boundary is the edge of the shallow continental shelf, which may extend several hundred kilometers out to sea.
At the center of each continental mass lies a shield or craton, a deformed mass of old metamorphic rocks dating from Precambrian times. The shield is thick, compact, and solid (the Canadian Shield is an example), having undergone all the mountain-building activity it is ever likely to, and is usually worn flat. Around the shield is a concentric pattern of fold mountains, with older ranges, such as the Rockies, closest to the shield, and younger ranges, such as the coastal ranges of North America, farther away. This general concentric pattern is modified when two continental masses have drifted together and they become welded with a great mountain range along the join, the way Europe and N Asia are joined along the Urals. If a continent is torn apart, the new continental edges have no fold mountains; for instance, South America has fold mountains (the Andes) along its western flank, but none along the east where it tore away from Africa 200 million years ago.
1. The loose soft material that makes up a large part of the surface of the land surface; SYN. ground.
2. (Archaic) Once thought to be one of four elements composing the universe.
3. The abode of mortals (as contrasted with heaven or hell).
ETYM as. land, lond; akin to Dutch, German, Icel., Swed., Dan., and Goth. land.
1. The land on which real estate is located.
2. The solid part of the earth's surface; SYN. dry land, earth, ground, solid ground, terra firma.
3. What plants grow in (especially with reference to its quality or use); SYN. ground, soil.
In economics, the factor of production which comprises not just land itself but all natural resources. Shoals of fish, natural forests, the atmosphere, and rivers are examples of land. The reward paid to owners of land is rent.
(plural Länder) Federal state of Germany or Austria.
The main land mass of a country or continent; as distinguished from an island or peninsula.