Definition of continental drift in English:

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continental drift

Pronunciation: /ˌkän(t)əˈnen(t)l drift/


The gradual movement of the continents across the earth’s surface through geological time.

The theory of continental drift, proposed in 1912, suggested that continents and continental crust drifted over denser oceanic crust. The mechanisms by which the original theory explained the drift, however, could not be substantiated and were proven wrong. The theory of continental drift has been replaced by the theory of plate tectonics. It is believed that a single supercontinent called Pangaea broke up to form Gondwana and Laurasia, which further split to form the present-day continents. South America and Africa, for example, are moving apart at a rate of a few centimeters per year. See plate tectonics.

Example sentences
  • Despite the now compelling nature of much of the geological evidence for continental drift, the most unequivocal proof of the movement of continents now surely comes from palaeomagnetism.
  • Geologists and continental drift theorists have shown that there was once one super continent named Pangea.
  • When first proposed a generation ago, the theory of continental drift and plate tectonics was one of the most shocking scientific ideas of its day.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·ti·nen·tal drift

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