1. a natural elevation of the earth’s surface, smaller than a mountain.
  2. an incline, especially in a road: This old jalopy won’t make it up the next hill.
  3. an artificial heap, pile, or mound: a hill made by ants.
  4. a small mound of earth raised about a cultivated plant or a cluster of such plants.
  5. the plant or plants so surrounded: a hill of potatoes.
  6. Baseball. mound1(def 4).
  7. the Hill. Capitol Hill.

verb (used with object)

  1. to surround with hills: to hill potatoes.
  2. to form into a hill or heap.
  1. go over the hill, Slang.
    1. to break out of prison.
    2. to absent oneself without leave from one’s military unit.
    3. to leave suddenly or mysteriously: Rumor has it that her husband has gone over the hill.
  2. over the hill,
    1. relatively advanced in age.
    2. past one’s prime.


  1. Ambrose Pow·ell [pouuh l] /ˈpaʊ əl/, 1825–65, Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War.
  2. Archibald Viv·i·an [viv-ee-uh n] /ˈvɪv i ən/, 1886–1977, English physiologist: Nobel Prize in Medicine 1922.
  3. James Jerome,1838–1916, U.S. railroad builder and financier, born in Canada.
  4. Joe,1879–1915, U.S. labor organizer and songwriter, born in Sweden.

pl n

  1. the hills a hilly and often remote region
  2. as old as the hills very old


    1. a conspicuous and often rounded natural elevation of the earth’s surface, less high or craggy than a mountain
    2. (in combination)a hillside; a hilltop
    1. a heap or mound made by a person or animal
    2. (in combination)a dunghill
  1. an incline; slope
  2. over the hill
    1. informalbeyond one’s prime
    2. military slangabsent without leave or deserting
  3. up hill and down dale strenuously and persistently

verb (tr)

  1. to form into a hill or mound
  2. to cover or surround with a mound or heap of earth


  1. Archibald Vivian. 1886–1977, British biochemist, noted for his research into heat loss in muscle contraction: shared the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine (1922)
  2. Damon Graham Devereux, son of Graham Hill. born 1960, British motor-racing driver; Formula One world champion (1996)
  3. David Octavius 1802–70, Scottish painter and portrait photographer, noted esp for his collaboration with the chemist Robert Adamson (1821–48)
  4. Sir Geoffrey (William). born 1932, British poet: his books include King Log (1968), Mercian Hymns (1971), The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy (1983), and The Orchards of Syon (2002)
  5. Graham. 1929–75, British motor-racing driver: world champion (1962, 1968)
  6. Octavia. 1838–1912, British housing reformer; a founder of the National Trust
  7. Sir Rowland. 1795–1879, British originator of the penny postage
  8. Susan (Elizabeth). born 1942, British novelist and writer of short stories: her books include I’m the King of the Castle (1970) The Woman in Black (1983), and Felix Derby (2002)

Old English hyll “hill,” from Proto-Germanic *hulni- (cf. Middle Dutch hille, Low German hull “hill,” Old Norse hallr “stone,” Gothic hallus “rock,” Old Norse holmr “islet in a bay,” Old English holm “rising land, island”), from PIE root *kel- “to rise, be elevated, be prominent” (cf. Sanskrit kutam “top, skull;” Latin collis “hill,” columna “projecting object,” culmen “top, summit,” cellere “raise,” celsus “high;” Greek kolonos “hill,” kolophon “summit;” Lithuanian kalnas “mountain,” kalnelis “hill,” kelti “raise”). Formerly including mountains, now usually confined to heights under 2,000 feet.

In Great Britain heights under 2,000 feet are generally called hills; ‘mountain’ being confined to the greater elevations of the Lake District, of North Wales, and of the Scottish Highlands; but, in India, ranges of 5,000 and even 10,000 feet are commonly called ‘hills,’ in contrast with the Himalaya Mountains, many peaks of which rise beyond 20,000 feet. [OED]

The term mountain is very loosely used. It commonly means any unusual elevation. In New England and central New York, elevations of from one to two thousand feet are called hills, but on the plains of Texas, a hill of a few hundred feet is called a mountain. [Ralph S. Tarr, “Elementary Geology,” Macmillan, 1903]

Despite the differences in defining mountain systems, Penck (1896), Supan (1911) and Obst (1914) agreed that the distinction between hills, mountains, and mountain systems according to areal extent or height is not a suitable classification. [“Geographic Information Science and Mountain Geomorphology,” 2004]

Phrase over the hill “past one’s prime” is first recorded 1950.

  1. British physiologist. He shared a 1922 Nobel Prize for his investigation of heat production in muscles and nerves.

see downhill all the way; go downhill; head for (the hills); make a mountain out of a molehill; not worth a dime (hill of beans); old as Adam (the hills); over the hill.

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