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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Cirque \Cirque\, n. [F., fr. L. circus.]

  1. A circle; a circus; a circular erection or arrangement of objects.

    A dismal cirque Of Druid stones upon a forlorn moor.

  2. A kind of circular valley in the side of a mountain, walled around by precipices of great height.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1600, "a circus," from French cirque (14c.), from Latin circus (see circus). Compare Italian and Spanish circo.


n. (context geology English) A curved depression in a mountainside with steep walls, forming the end of a valley.


n. a steep-walled semicircular basin in a mountain; may contain a lake [syn: corrie, cwm]

Cirque (disambiguation)

Cirque may refer to:

  • Cirque, an amphitheatre-like valley head
  • Cirque (album), a 2000 album by Biosphere
  • Cirque Corporation, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based company which developed and commercialized the first successful capacitive touchpad
  • Cirque du Soleil, a Canadian entertainment company
  • Contemporary circus (nouveau cirque), a genre of performing art developed in the later 20th century
  • Le Cirque, 1891 painting by Georges Seurat

thumb|Two cirques with semi-permanent snowpatches near Abisko National Park, Sweden

A cirque (French, from the Latin word circus) is a theatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion. Alternative names for this landform are corrie (from Scottish Gaelic coire meaning a pot or cauldron) and cwm ( Welsh for "valley", pronounced coom). A cirque may also be a similarly shaped landform arising from fluvial erosion.

The concave theatre shape is open on the downhill side corresponding to the flatter area of the stage, while the cupped seating section is generally steep, cliff-like slopes down which ice and glaciated debris combine and converge from the three or more higher sides. The floor of the cirque ends up bowl-shaped as it is the complex convergence zone of combining ice flows from multiple directions and their accompanying rock burdens, hence it experiences somewhat greater erosion forces, and is most often overdeepened below the level of the cirque's low-side outlet (stage) and its down slope (backstage) valley. If the cirque is subject to seasonal melting, the floor of the cirque most often forms a tarn (small lake) behind the moraine, glacial till or bedrock lip marking the downstream limit of glacial overdeepening of the basin, which serves as a dam at the outlet.

Another form of cirque or makhtesh, found in karst landscapes, is formed by intermittent river flow cutting through layers of limestone and chalk leaving sheer cliffs. A common feature for all fluvial-erosion cirques is a terrain which includes erosion resistant upper structures overlying materials which are more easily eroded.

Cirque (album)

Cirque is an album by ambient musician Biosphere, which was released in 2000.

Miss Kittin used "Le Grand Dôme" on her mix album A Bugged Out Mix.

Cirque is dedicated to the memory of Christopher McCandless.

Usage examples of "cirque".

A report was spread that the prince was to land at La Cirque and make his entry into Alca on a green horse.

Madame Svengali intends to make her first appearance in Paris that very evening, at nine punctually, in the Cirque des Bashibazoucks, Rue St.

Beneath their feet precipices fell suddenly away from a giddy verge, sweeping round in a grand cirque above which the mountain rose like some Tartarian fortress, ponderous, cruel as the sea and sad, scarred and gashed with great lines of cleavage as though the face of the mountain had been slashed away by the axe-stroke of a giant.

They had houses like the one in the Rue du Cirque, mistresses more expensive than Mme.

Louveciennes, I called in the Rue du Cirque, where I saw one Zelie Cadelle.

Rue du Cirque, the commissary of police could not understand the cause of their agitation.

Zelie was precisely the same woman whom they had found in the Rue du Cirque, in that sumptuous mansion where Vincent Favoral, under the simple name of Vincent, had been living, according to the neighbors, in such a princely style.

Fortin who was despatched to the Rue du Cirque, and who went off muttering, though he had received five francs to take a carriage, and five francs for his trouble.

Favoral was so anxious to spare when he put you in the Rue du Cirque house.

She made use of our house in the Rue du Cirque for purposes of dissipation for herself and her daughter Cesarine.

Scott heard an intense rumbling above him and looked up in time to see enormous chunks of ice fall from the buttresses surrounding the cirque, avalanching down into the basin, scattering the Invid Troopers and burying the Cyclones and Veritechs under tons of crystalline snow.

The moths aggregated in glacial cirques on talus right below steeper headwalls.

The aggregations of the cutworm moths, and so the feeding grounds of the bears, were usually at the head of the cirques below the massifs.

The temperature was far below zero and they were faced with a breath-takingly beautiful but hazardous sight as clouds closed in almost all views below them, even of the slight dips, valleys, and cirques, leaving only the points of the highest peaks popping up into a brilliant, almost blinding sun.

And then the night after that, after some of them had spent the day out fell running, exploring high basins in his quest to see as much of the land as he could, they might stay out to sleep in a little survival tent, camping in one of the high cirques east of the city, heating a meal in the dusk as stars popped out everywhere in the purple sky, and the alpine flowers faded away into the basin of rock that held them all, as if in the palm of a giant hand.