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See also: Mountain


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A snow-covered mountain (sense 1).


From Middle English mountayne, mountain, montaigne, from Anglo-Norman muntaine, muntaigne, from early Medieval Latin montānia, a collective based on Latin montem (mountain), from Proto-Indo-European *monti (compare Welsh mynydd (mountain), Albanian mat (bank, shore), Avestan 𐬨𐬀𐬙𐬌(mati, promontory)), from *men- (to project, stick out). Displaced native Old English beorg and dūn, and partially displaced non-native Old English munt, from Latin mōns (whence English mount).



mountain (countable and uncountable, plural mountains)

  1. (countable) An elevation of land of considerable dimensions rising more or less abruptly, forming a conspicuous figure in the landscape, usually having a small extent of surface at its summit. [from 12th c.]
    Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
    We spent the weekend hiking in the mountains.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Jeremiah 50:6:
      My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
    • 1807, Joseph Wilson, “Preliminary Observations”, in A History of Mountains, Geographical and Mineralogical, volume 1, London: Nicol, White, Faulders & Asperne, pages xlvi–xlvii:
      Wherever a geologist directs his attention in the midst of a scene of mountains, traces of ruin and decay always meet his eye; and the lofty prominences of our globe, supposed to be the most permanent of nature's works, every where display unequivocal marks of the lapse and effects of time.
  2. (countable) Something very large in size or quantity; a huge amount; a great heap. [from 15th c.]
    He was a real mountain of a man, standing seven feet tall.
    There's still a mountain of work to do.
    • 2002 December 9, “A Mountain of Lies?”, in The Economist[2]:
      Iraq says the mountain of documentation it has provided to the United Nations shows it is innocent of harbouring weapons of mass destruction. America continues to maintain that it has evidence that this is a pack of lies.
  3. (figuratively) A difficult task or challenge.
    • 2011 October 1, Phil Dawkes, “Sunderland 2 - 2 West Brom”, in BBC Sport[3]:
      Five minutes into the game the Black Cats were facing a mountain, partly because of West Brom's newly-found ruthlessness in front of goal but also as a result of the home side's defensive generosity.
  4. (uncountable, now historical) Wine from Malaga made from grapes that grow on a mountain. [from 18th c.]
    • 1785-1789, James Boswell, The English Experiment (diaries)
      Called on Courtenay, with whom I walked to Hampstead Heath, and got into excellent spirits, enjoying fine fresh air; then dined with him tête-a-tête on mutton broth and mackerel and drank mountain and old port moderately.
  5. (countable, slang) A woman's large breast.
  6. (cartomancy) The twenty-first Lenormand card.

Usage notes[edit]

As with the names of rivers and lakes, the names of mountains are typically formed by adding the generic word before or after the unique term. In the case of mountains, when the word precedes the unique term, mount is used: Mount Olympus, Mount Everest, Mount Tai; when the word follows the unique term, mountain is used: Crowfoot Mountain, Blue Mountain, Rugged Mountain. Generally speaking, such names will be adjectives or attributive nouns, but many foreign placenames formed with adjectives—as China's Huashan—are translated as though they were proper names: Mount Hua instead of Hua Mountain or Flourishing Mountain.

Mountain chains are never named with mount, only with mountains, a translated term, or a pluralized name.


Terms derived from Germanic roots
  • (obsolete in some senses) barrow
  • (chiefly South Africa) berg
  • (chiefly dialectal) berry
  • (chiefly Northern England) pike


Of the sense “an elevation of land”


Of the sense “an elevation of land”


Of the sense “an elevation of land”

Derived terms[edit]

Single-word terms derived from “mountain”
Attributive uses of the noun “mountain”
Idioms with the word “mountain”
Proverbs with the word “mountain”

Related terms[edit]

Terms derived from Latin “mōns


See also[edit]


  1. ^ mountain”, in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.,
  2. ^ “OALD”, in (please provide the title of the work)[1], accessed 26 December 2012, archived from the original on 2012-11-01

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of mountayne