Definition of Hercynian in US English:



  • 1Relating to or denoting a prolonged mountain-forming period (orogeny) in western Europe, eastern North America, and the Andes in the Upper Paleozoic era, especially the Carboniferous and Permian periods.

    • ‘These late Hercynian faults are generally assumed to be left-lateral strike-slip faults.’
    • ‘They are characteristic of the granitic uplands or moors of south-western England and of other Hercynian massifs in western and central Europe.’
    • ‘We show that these results allow us to constrain the late Carboniferous/early Permian tectonic setting for this part of the Hercynian belt of Europe.’
    • ‘This makes them very unusual within the western European Hercynian belt and suggests a peculiar orogenic context.’
    • ‘The late granitic plutons of the NW Iberian Peninsula, the last important felsic magmatic event of the Hercynian orogeny, are distributed in bands parallel to the Ibero-Armorican arc.’
    1. 1.1as noun the Hercynian The Hercynian orogeny.


Late 16th century: from Latin Hercynia silva; the ancient name of an area of forested mountains in central Germany; later (from the late 19th century) applied in geology to the Harz Mountains formed in the Hercynian period.