October 06, 2016
watershed (noun)
\WAH-ter-shed\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : a dividing ridge (as a mountain range) separating one drainage area from others2 : the area that drains into a river or lake
How do you use it?
Science students will be participating in a river watershed cleanup this fall, which means they'll be picking up anything that doesn't belong in the streams that feed into the river, like bottles and other trash.
Are you a word wiz?

"Watershed" has come to have another meaning in addition to the two we've already told you about. Which of these do you think it is?

If A struck you as the crucial answer, you picked well! The word "watershed" had to do with geography when it first was used in the early 1800s. Later, however, it came to refer to a crucial dividing point, line, or factor, also called a "turning point," as in "The invention of the printing press was a watershed in the history of books." Perhaps because of their metaphoric qualities, many words for geographic features have gained extended meanings. Some examples in addition to "watershed" are "mountain" ("a mountain of mail"), "river" ("drank rivers of coffee"), and "desert" ("lost in a desert of doubt").
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