Definition of scree in US English:



  • 1A mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain.

    ‘they had to pick their way up precarious scree’
    as modifier ‘we reached the treacherous scree slope’
    • ‘Melting ice gave way to continual rocks falling down scree slopes and into glacial streams and underground ice caves.’
    • ‘The view back down the valley was also becoming grander as we rose high above the dark scree slopes and meandering river.’
    • ‘At its top end, the trench opened out into a shallow circular pit that had been built up with a parapet of scree stone and mud from the valley bottom.’
    • ‘Within an hour the gentle slope has careened skyward, and with each step loose bits of scree tumble down on those unfortunate enough to be bringing up the rear.’
    • ‘Measurements were taken over 200 second intervals on vertical faces which had had as much loose scree and weathered material removed as possible.’
    • ‘The road turns to stone, the slopes to scree, and then came the top, the heather and our sandwich stop.’
    • ‘Video footage helps the controller navigate the robot and negotiate tough volcanic terrain from solidified lava flows to loose scree and rocks.’
    • ‘This leads to the production of extensive areas of broken rock and large scree slopes.’
    • ‘Above us scree slopes hung like frozen waterfalls, vast boulders strewn among them where they had tumbled.’
    • ‘We follow a path through the Montezuma Basin, then cut across slopes of scree.’
    • ‘At 9:20 A.M., I left the camp in a fresh 20-knot wind and headed off, slowly pacing up the treacherous rocky scree slopes.’
    • ‘That stone-heap on a west-facing slope, is it scree, or a cairn, or the remains of a house?’
    • ‘Last autumn found me on a grueling research trip in the eastern Sierra, hauling heavy video equipment cross-country over loose scree and high passes.’
    • ‘A few hundred yards, and we're on the first technical section of the route, a steep double-track with solid ground for your left tires but loose scree under your right.’
    • ‘Leaving Alex to study for his biology degree, we walked out into the swirling mists and up the steep slopes of volcanic scree towards the snowline.’
    • ‘I did some useful snow cartography of slopes and took measurements of scree slopes.’
    • ‘My knees were knocking just a little by the time I got down and I would recommend anyone who didn't like loose rock and scree to go back down the way they came.’
    • ‘It's a steep climb to the gap over loose scree and boulder slopes but the climbing eases off once you enter the narrow confines of The Window.’
    • ‘The roof gives one the sensation of sitting in a dry riverbed or mountain scree slope, particularly because it lacks containing barriers.’
    • ‘They nest in colonies in scree slopes along ice-free Antarctic and sub-Antarctic coasts, where they lay a single egg in a natural cavity.’
    rock, pebble, boulder
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A slope covered with small loose stones.
      ‘the dramatic cliffs and screes’
      • ‘On three sides, cliffs and screes rose from a lake to the ice-cap above.’
      • ‘Ilexes and oleanders line the roadside; tall yellow mulleins and apricot hollyhocks spring up in the screes above.’
      • ‘We sit and contemplate the high domed peak of Errigal, its white quartzy screes making it look snowy, beautiful, impossible.’
      • ‘To anyone to whom Maxwell means anything the towering screes of Beinn Sgritheall stand as a natural monument, a lasting monument, to his achievements.’
      • ‘From Inchnadamph, the grey screes of Conival's upper tiers contrast starkly with the lush pastoral tones of Gleann Dubh below.’
      • ‘Such a positive interaction results from the protection of seedlings against drought by established vegetation, and is well known in extreme climates like deserts or alpine screes.’
      • ‘An awkward ascent, hopping from tussocks to old stumps through a deep mire, and then a stiff climb up steep screes, led to the high point of the circuit, the John Garner Pass.’
      • ‘This can be found on the screes in the Torlesse Range some 80 km from Christchurch.’
      • ‘No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot keep up with my guide, Alistair, who scampers over the screes like some tweed-clad mountain goat.’
      • ‘It grows on alpine north-facing mobile limestone screes, mostly over 1800 meters above sea level, confined to a narrow area of approximately 160 km.’
      • ‘There are ascent routes from this side of the hill but probably the most straightforward route is from the south side, avoiding the worst of the screes.’
      • ‘As your mind tries to comprehend the harshness of the scene your eyes trace a route through the rocks - up steep screes above the frozen lochan, onto a long slabby ridge.’
      • ‘While Meall a'Ghiubhais is a straightforward climb from the path, the steep screes and formidable northern crags of Ruadh-stac Beag makes a direct ascent almost impossible.’


Early 18th century: probably a back-formation from the plural screes, from Old Norse skritha ‘landslip’; related to skrítha ‘glide’.