AskDefine | Define waterfall

Dictionary Definition

waterfall n : a steep descent of the water of a river [syn: falls]

User Contributed Dictionary



water + fall


  • italbrac UK: /ˈwɔːtəfɔːl/, /"wO:t@fO:l/
  • italbrac US: , /ˈwɑtɚfɔl/, "wAt@`fOl/


  1. A permanent flow of water over the edge of an erosion-resistant cliff.
  2. A waterfall-like outpouring of liquid, smoke, etc.
    • A waterfall of mist from the open freezer.



permanent flow of water over the edge of a cliff
waterfall-like outpouring
  • Croatian: vodopad
  • Dutch: waterval
  • Finnish: hyöky
  • German: Wasserfall
  • Hebrew:
  • Italian: cascata
  • Japanese: (taki)
  • Norwegian: foss
  • Persian: (âbšâr), (favarân')
  • Polish: wodospad
  • Russian: водопад (vodopád)
  • Welsh: rhaeadr, pistyll, sgwd


  1. To fall like a waterfall.

Derived terms

See also

External links

  • [ - Stock Waterfall Photographs, Waterfall Information, Waterfall Forum]

Extensive Definition

Typically, a river flows over a large step in the rocks which may have been formed by a fault line. Over a period of years, the edges of this shelf will gradually break away and the waterfall will steadily retreat upstream, creating a gorge of recession. Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning undercutting, due to splashback, will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter or plunge pool under and behind the waterfall. Eventually, the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are then broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, and they also erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool or gorge.
Streams become wider and more shallow just above waterfalls due to flowing over the rock shelf, and there is usually a deep pool just below the waterfall because of the kinetic energy of the water hitting the bottom.
Waterfalls can occur along the edge of glacial trough, whereby a stream or river flowing into a glacier continues to flow into a valley after the glacier has receded or melted. The large waterfalls in Yosemite Valley are examples of this phenomenon. The rivers are flowing from hanging valleys.

Classifying Waterfalls

Waterfalls are grouped into 10 broad classes based on the average volume of water present on the fall using a logarithmic scale. Class 10 waterfalls include Niagara Falls, Paulo Alfonso Falls and Khone Falls. Classes of other well known waterfalls include; Victoria Falls and Kaieteur Falls (Class 9); Rhine Falls, Gullfoss and Sutherland Falls (Class 8); Angel Falls and Dettifoss (Class 7); Yosemite Falls and Lower Yellowstone Falls (Class 6).

Types of waterfalls

  • Block: Water descends from a relatively wide stream or river.
  • Cascade: Water descends a series of rock steps.
  • Cataract: A large waterfall.
  • Fan: Water spreads horizontally as it descends while remaining in contact with bedrock.
  • Horsetail: Descending water maintains some contact with bedrock.
  • Plunge: Water descends vertically, losing contact with the bedrock surface.
  • Punchbowl: Water descends in a constricted form, then spreads out in a wider pool.
  • Segmented: Distinctly separate flows of water form as it descends.
  • Tiered:Water drops in a series of distinct steps or falls.
  • Multi-step: A series of waterfalls one after another of roughly the same size each with its own sunken plunge pool.

Examples of large waterfalls

main List of waterfalls
Significant waterfalls include these alphabetically:

See also


waterfall in Arabic: شلال
waterfall in Min Nan: Chúi-chhiâng
waterfall in Bulgarian: Водопад
waterfall in Catalan: Cascada
waterfall in Czech: Vodopád
waterfall in Welsh: Rhaeadr
waterfall in Danish: Vandfald
waterfall in German: Wasserfall
waterfall in Estonian: Juga
waterfall in Modern Greek (1453-): Καταρράκτης
waterfall in Spanish: Cascada
waterfall in Esperanto: Akvofalo
waterfall in Basque: Ur-jauzi
waterfall in Persian: آبشار
waterfall in French: Chute d'eau
waterfall in Scottish Gaelic: Eas
waterfall in Galician: Fervenza
waterfall in Gujarati: ધોધ
waterfall in Korean: 폭포
waterfall in Hindi: झरना
waterfall in Indonesian: Air terjun
waterfall in Inuktitut: ᖁᖅᓗᕐᓂᖅ/quqlurniq
waterfall in Icelandic: Foss
waterfall in Italian: Cascata
waterfall in Hebrew: מפל מים
waterfall in Latin: Aqua cadens
waterfall in Lithuanian: Krioklys
waterfall in Dutch: Waterval
waterfall in Japanese: 滝
waterfall in Norwegian: Foss
waterfall in Norwegian Nynorsk: Foss
waterfall in Polish: Wodospad
waterfall in Portuguese: Queda de água
waterfall in Romanian: Cascadă
waterfall in Quechua: Phaqcha
waterfall in Russian: Водопад
waterfall in Simple English: Waterfall
waterfall in Slovak: Vodopád
waterfall in Slovenian: Slap
waterfall in Serbian: Водопад
waterfall in Sundanese: Curug
waterfall in Finnish: Vesiputous
waterfall in Swedish: Vattenfall
waterfall in Tamil: அருவி
waterfall in Thai: น้ำตก
waterfall in Vietnamese: Thác
waterfall in Cherokee: ᎠᎹᏍᎧᎦᎯ
waterfall in Turkish: Şelâle
waterfall in Ukrainian: Водоспад
waterfall in Urdu: آبشار
waterfall in Chinese: 瀑布

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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