Definition of tectonic in English:



  • 1Geology
    Relating to the structure of the earth's crust and the large-scale processes which take place within it.

    ‘the movements of the tectonic plates’
    ‘areas of tectonic activity’
    • ‘In these zones one section of the Earth's crust, called a tectonic plate, moves over or under another.’
    • ‘In this paper, we discuss the tectonic settings and magmatic processes which allow these magmas to reach the surface.’
    • ‘Geologists have long studied mountains for clues to Earth's tectonic history.’
    • ‘Even in fairly recent history the theory of tectonic plates beneath the earth's crust was discounted and scorned before it could eventually be proven.’
    • ‘This area is a good example of the interplay of tectonic and magmatic processes.’
    1. 1.1 (of a change or development) very significant or considerable.
      ‘the last decade has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs’
      • ‘You find a great tectonic confidence in NGP's handling of such work Buildings change, uses change, technologies change, yet the past holds important lessons.’
      • ‘But its roots go much deeper, to a tectonic change in the country's political-economic demographics.’
      • ‘Militarism, one of the tectonic plates in our political culture, has made a huge shift in a short time.’
      • ‘Shiite suspicions of the American troop increase reflect a tectonic shift in the political realities here.’
      • ‘There's been a tectonic shift in public thinking.’
      • ‘Vietnam lies at the center of a tectonic traffic jam.’
      • ‘In these efforts, and much more, our Congress has signed off on massive, tectonic legislation without so much as a moment's pause.’
      • ‘The tectonic plates are shifting under Scotland's opposition parties.’
      • ‘Chords shift like tectonic plates in a rugby scrum and Todd remains calm, focused and deals in a very dry, biting, intoned vocal delivery.’
      • ‘Sengor, in particular, advocated superposition of a regime associated with tectonic escape.’
      • ‘For those who can sense the movement of ideological tectonic plates, this book represents the beginning of a seismic shift.’
      • ‘But despite relative economy of means, the building has bold tectonic presence.’
      • ‘For Sharon, so long the patron of the settlement project, to utter these words is a tectonic shift.’
      • ‘It's a real-life, working home — now twisting and groaning under the thrall of a tectonic hiccup.’
  • 2Relating to building or construction.

    ‘a contest of tectonic quality and public attractiveness’
    • ‘Secondly, if the cut and montage are essential to cinematography, so too is the tectonic essential for architecture.’
    • ‘A truly tectonic architecture will therefore be naturally identified with its surroundings through its choice of materials and forms responding to availability and climactic conditions.’
    • ‘The Weimar Bauhaus is a tectonic expression of load bearing walls interrupted by window screens.’
    • ‘The house has a tectonic simplicity and an ephemeral beauty, being as light in its mass as it is in ambience.’
    • ‘But despite relative economy of means, the building has bold tectonic presence.’
    constructional, organizational, systemic, constitutional, configurational, formational
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century (in tectonic (sense 2)): via late Latin from Greek tektonikos, from tektōn ‘carpenter, builder’.