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See also: sérac



A piece of serac (sense 1), or Schabziger, cheese being grated
An 1859–1910 photograph of mountaineers passing seracs (sense 2) of the Bossons Glacier in the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps, from the collection of the Bibliothèque de Toulouse in Toulouse, France

From Switzerland French sérac (kind of cheese; sharp tower of ice), from Franco-Provençal sera, seré, from Latin seraceum, from serum (whey), from Proto-Indo-European *ser- (to flow, run). Sense 2 is from the resemblance of the towers of ice to the cheese, which tends to cleave into rectangular pieces.[1]



serac (plural seracs)

  1. Often sérac: a hard, cone-shaped, pale green, strongly flavoured cheese from Switzerland made from skimmed cowmilk and blue fenugreek (Trigonella caerulea); Schabziger, Sapsago. It is usually eaten grated, mixed with butter, or in a fondue.
  2. (geography, glaciology) A sharp tower of ice formed by intersecting crevasses of a glacier. [from mid 19th c.]
    • 1838, A Hand-book for Travellers in Switzerland and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont: Including the Protestant Valleys of the Waldenses (Murray’s Handbooks for Travellers), London: John Murray; Leipzig: Black and Armstrong; Paris: Galignani, OCLC 922779628, page 368, column 2:
      Perhaps the finest part of it [the Lysjoch] is the grand sérac scenery of the Zwillinge Glacier. In August, 1876, a party of four, having missed the right track in crossing this pass when the snow was in very bad condition, were carried down in an avalanche of loose snow probably started by their own weight.
    • 1854, Charles Williams, chapter VI, in The Alps, Switzerland, and the North of Italy: With Numerous Engravings, New York, N.Y.: Printed by Alexander Montgomery, 17, Spruce-Street, OCLC 886359906, page 82:
      Numerous blocks of ice, to which the name "serac" is given, covered the plain. These are large fragments of frozen snow, almost rectangular. They take their name from the resemblance they bear to a compact cheese called "serac," which is made from skimmed milk, and pressed into rectangular cans.
    • 1863 March, W. Wigram, “[Notes and Queries.] Intersection of the Lines of Bedding of the Névé by Blue Veins of Pure Ice”, in H. B. George, editor, The Alpine Journal: A Record of Mountain Adventure and Scientific Observation. By Members of the Alpine Club, volume I, number I, London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green, published 1864, OCLC 53876251, page 46:
      As you mount the Aletschhorn from the sleeping place, towards the lowest col from which you first overlook the Lotsch Glacier there descends, from a higher plateau, and on your right hand, a large mass of sérac.
    • 2017 October, Jamie Ambrose; Robert Dinwiddie; John Farndon; Tim Harris; David Summers, “Glaciers and Ice-sheets”, in Peter Frances, editor, Natural Wonders of the World, London: Dorling Kindersley, →ISBN, page 233:
      The Boltoro Glacier [] The surface of the glacier is rough and uneven, broken by crevasses and covered by seracs and rock debris.

Alternative forms[edit]



  1. ^ A Hand-book for Travellers in Switzerland, and the Alps of Savoy and Piedmont (Murray’s Handbooks for Travellers), 15th rev. edition, London: John Murray, Albemarle Street; Paris: Galignani & Co.; Boyveau, 1874, OCLC 922779628, page lxxiii, column 2: “Sérac—Tower of a glacier ice-fall, ice-castle; name derived from a thin cheese which splits into rectangular pieces.”

Further reading[edit]




serac m (plural seracs)

  1. (glaciology) serac (a sharp ridge of ice between crevasses of a glacier)