Definition of scarp in English:



  • 1A very steep bank or slope; an escarpment.

    ‘the north face is a very steep scarp’
    • ‘He developed a hypothesis for their formation called pediplanation in which slopes retreat parallel, leaving behind a series of generally flat surfaces separated by scarps.’
    • ‘The survey also revealed other visible evidence of the earthquake, including clearly developed scarps and cracks where the faults pass beneath glaciers.’
    • ‘These scarps have evidently been produced by toe-cutting by axial Big Lost River channels.’
    • ‘The park has its origins in the early 1870s when a 175-hectare tract of land on the scarp overlooking the fledgling colonial settlement of Perth was designated as future public garden and parkland.’
    • ‘On the long, steep scarp between the iron age hillfort above and ploughed fields below are white signs carved into the turf.’
    • ‘South of the valley the land rises onto the irregular low scarp of the Castlereagh Hills and rarely exceeds a height of 150m.’
    • ‘The two men - both suffering minor burns, one with a broken hand - had made it to the top of the scarp.’
    • ‘Any flank uplift would have shown the scarp to be significantly higher than a mid-valley outlier.’
    • ‘I even discovered a humble cave, blasted into the scarp overlooking the sea.’
    • ‘We rode up the Sinai scarp by the pilgrim's granite-hewn road with its gradient of one in three and a half.’
    • ‘The fault structure was veneered by lava which was produced by the peripheral magma reservoirs and flowed down the scarp and into the lower central caldera.’
    • ‘The slopes are very steep in places, forming scarps.’
    • ‘The eastward-facing horseshoe-shaped scarps of South Soufriere Hills volcano pose an unresolved problem.’
    • ‘The house, built around three sides of a courtyard and landscaped into a slope, looks out towards the Cotswold scarp.’
    • ‘In the east it commonly terminates against a prominent fault scarp.’
    • ‘In this arid climate evaporites form; alluvial fans lie at the base of footwall scarps and carbonate reefs grow.’
    • ‘He has taken over a pub a mile away from the Tontine in the recusant village of Osmotherley, high on the scarp of the moors.’
    • ‘Along these scarps, the earth stood between nine and twenty-one feet higher on one side than on the other.’
    • ‘Between the gap and the mountain was a wild and broken terrain of scarp and gorge.’
    • ‘The 16 of us - 13 scientists, a two-man Colombian television crew, and our driver from the observatory, Carlos Estrada - moved to the lip of the scarp.’
    hill, hillside, hillock, bank, rise, escarpment, scarp
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    1. 1.1The inner wall of a ditch in a fortification.
      Compare with counterscarp
      • ‘The look-out openings on the parapet and even the gun-holes that honeycomb the scarp, serve as ventilators.’
      • ‘More than 300 meters in diameter, Qala-i Jangi was of the style known as Vaubanian - built with moats, ramparts, scarps and counterscarps and parapets.’
      • ‘Additional mines were used to destroy the palisades of the covered passage and the supporting walls of the counterscarp or scarp, thus facilitating entry into the fortress.’


  • 1 Cut or erode (a slope or hillside) so that it becomes steep, perpendicular, or precipitous.

    ‘the scarped edge of the central plateau’
    • ‘A scarped windward slope is the aspect most characteristic of coastal dunes.’
    • ‘The picturesque old town, situated on the summit of a scarped hill, lies northwest of Reims and northeast of Paris.’
    precipitous, sheer, abrupt, sharp, perpendicular, vertical, bluff, vertiginous, dizzy
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    1. 1.1Provide (a ditch in a fortification) with a steep scarp and counterscarp.
      • ‘Outside this second circuit the natural slope has again been scarped to create a steep fall of about 10 m., at the bottom of which is a third, rather less substantial, rampart.’


Late 16th century (with reference to fortification): from Italian scarpa.