Definition of mountain in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmount(ə)n/


1A large natural elevation of the earth’s surface rising abruptly from the surrounding level; a large steep hill: the village is backed by awe-inspiring mountains we set off down the mountain [as modifier]: the ice and snow of a mountain peak
More example sentences
  • The valley, surrounded by steep mountains, is one of the Amazon's least spoiled treasures.
  • Surrounded by mountains and rainforest, it's about two hours drive from Hobart.
  • Waiting to jump from the boat, I gaze up at the snow-capped mountains surrounding the fjord.
peak, height, mount, prominence, summit, pinnacle, alp;
(mountains) range, sierra, cordillera, massif
1.1 (mountains) A mountainous region characterized by remoteness and inaccessibility: they sought refuge in the mountains (as adjective mountain) his attempt to picture the mountain folk in ridiculous attire
More example sentences
  • Next day we trekked along a steep mountain trail to reach the rim of this vast, embracing feature.
  • They financed buses to ferry people from the most remote mountain villages to Beirut for the day.
  • Those cultivating mountain land are mostly Aborigines and the farmland belongs to them.
1.2 (a mountain/mountains of) A large pile or quantity of something: a mountain of paperwork
More example sentences
  • Gallacher attends his fair share of meetings and usually has a mountain of paperwork to get through at the end of the day.
  • Never have I had such a mountain of paperwork to clear before Christmas.
  • When I got into work there was a mountain of work to get through, loads of meeting requests and several problems to sort out.
a great deal, a lot;
a profusion, an abundance, a quantity, a backlog
informal a heap, a pile, a stack, a slew, lots, loads, heaps, piles, tons, masses
1.3 [usually with modifier] A large surplus stock of a commodity: this farming produced huge food mountains
More example sentences
  • Until the 1980s, the EU simply bought any extra production and piled it up in warehouses, forming what became known as the EU ‘butter mountain’ (‘wine lakes’ were another manifestation of the same problem).
  • Campaigners complain that shifting the butter mountain into developing countries stifles agricultural trade, by crowding out domestic farmers who can't compete with the might of the EU.



make a mountain out of a molehill


move mountains

1Achieve spectacular and apparently impossible results.
Example sentences
  • We have faith in our chances, and faith can move mountains.
  • If faith can move mountains, what can it do for a club's Premiership prospects?
  • He told me that love is powerful, peace and grace are necessary for salvation, faith can move mountains, and that patience and understanding are important tools in life.
perform miracles, work/do wonders
2Make every possible effort: his fans move mountains to catch as many of his performances as possible
More example sentences
  • His supporters are moving mountains to allow him to enter the race.
  • Dr. Barry, who moves mountains for her patients, is doing all that one doctor can do.
  • There are many reasons why I retain a personal assistant, and this is one of the most important: I have moved mountains to engineer a lifestyle in which nobody expects much out of me before the hour of 11 a.m.
make every effort, pull out all the stops, do one's utmost/best
informal bend/lean over backwards



Example sentences
  • Johnny becomes embroiled in a shady land acquisition deal involving a grasping cleric, a shrewd settled traveller and some mountainy men over a ‘bit of bog which might just be turned into a runway.’
  • So, it was his love for Irish music and his wish to expand and develop on his ‘old-time, mountainy music ‘that really took him there.
  • ‘This mountainy country would have been favoured by the highwaymen years ago but I have found that there are always a lot more thieves on the main roads’ he said.


Middle English: from Old French montaigne, based on Latin mons, mont- 'mountain'.

  • The Latin word mons ‘mountain’ was extended in French to create the ancestor of mountain. It is also the source of mount (Old English), paramount (mid 16th century) ‘highest’, and amount (Middle English). The story behind the proverb if the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain, was told in 1625 by the philosopher Francis Bacon. Muhammad was once challenged to prove his credentials as a prophet by summoning Mount Safa to come to him. Inevitably, the mountain did not move in response to his summons, but Muhammad had a ready answer for this. He observed that if the mountain had moved it would have crushed him and all his followers to death. Therefore it was only right that now he should go to the mountain and give thanks to God for his mercy in sparing them all from this disaster. The phrase to move mountains means both ‘to achieve apparently impossible results’ and ‘to make every effort’. In the first sense it goes back to Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ The contrast of size between mountains and molehills has been exploited since the late 16th century hence make a mountain out of a molehill.

Words that rhyme with mountain


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: moun·tain

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