1. a line of cliffs formed by the faulting or fracturing of the earth’s crust; an escarpment.
  2. Fortification. an escarp.

verb (used with object)

  1. to form or cut into a steep slope.


  1. a steep slope, esp one formed by erosion or faulting; escarpmentSee also cuesta
  2. fortifications the side of a ditch cut nearest to and immediately below a rampart


  1. (tr; often passive) to wear or cut so as to form a steep slope

n.“steep slope,” 1580s, from Italian scarpa “slope,” probably from a Germanic source, perhaps Gothic skarpo “pointed object,” from Proto-Germanic *skarpa- “cutting, sharp” (cf. Middle High German schroffe “sharp rock, crag,” Old English scræf “cave, grave”), from PIE *(s)ker- “to cut” (see shear (v.)).

  1. A continuous line of cliffs produced by vertical movement of the Earth’s crust along a fault or by erosion. The term is often used interchangeably with escarpment but is more accurately associated with cliffs produced by faulting rather than those produced by erosional processes.

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