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 this paper, we discuss the tectonic settings and magmatic processes which allow these magmas to reach the surface.’
    • ‘In these zones one section of the Earth's crust, called a tectonic plate, moves over or under another.’
    • ‘This area is a good example of the interplay of tectonic and magmatic processes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Geologists have long studied mountains for clues to Earth's tectonic history.’
    1. 1.1 (of a change or development) very significant or considerable.
      ‘the last decade has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs’
      • ‘It's a real-life, working home — now twisting and groaning under the thrall of a tectonic hiccup.’
      • ‘Sengor, in particular, advocated superposition of a regime associated with tectonic escape.’
      • ‘There's been a tectonic shift in public thinking.’
      • ‘The tectonic plates are shifting under Scotland's opposition parties.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 despite relative economy of means, the building has bold tectonic presence.’
      • ‘Chords shift like tectonic plates in a rugby scrum and Todd remains calm, focused and deals in a very dry, biting, intoned vocal delivery.’
      • ‘But its roots go much deeper, to a tectonic change in the country's political-economic demographics.’
      • ‘For Sharon, so long the patron of the settlement project, to utter these words is a tectonic shift.’
      • ‘For those who can sense the movement of ideological tectonic plates, this book represents the beginning of a seismic shift.’
      • ‘Shiite suspicions of the American troop increase reflect a tectonic shift in the political realities here.’
      • ‘Militarism, one of the tectonic plates in our political culture, has made a huge shift in a short time.’
  • 2Relating to building or construction.

    ‘a contest of tectonic quality and public attractiveness’
    • ‘But despite relative economy of means, the building has bold tectonic presence.’
    • ‘The house has a tectonic simplicity and an ephemeral beauty, being as light in its mass as it is in ambience.’
    • ‘The Weimar Bauhaus is a tectonic expression of load bearing walls interrupted by window screens.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’.