Definition of watershed in English:



  • 1An area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.

    • ‘These included aggregations sampled along parallel watersheds in the Madawaska Highlands for examining fine geographic scale population structure.’
    • ‘O'Grady and Geslin were still in the lead, some hundred miles into the stage, when the peloton climbed steadily into the area known as Le Forez, the watershed between the rivers Saone and Rhone.’
    • ‘Besides being a watershed, a hill area impacts a much larger area in the plains below.’
    • ‘The slopes of the hill on the northern and eastern sides descend sharply into the river valleys draining from the mountain watersheds of Avgo and Ayios Niketas.’
    • ‘In the Marin watershed on Pumpkin Ridge, Davidson showed me a site where Rizzo and other scientists had injected some healthy coast live oaks with P. ramorum.’
    1. 1.1 An area or region drained by a river, river system, or other body of water.
      • ‘The city council voted unanimously in July to make the entire watershed an ecological reserve.’
      • ‘My family has continuously resided in the Sun River watershed since the 1870s.’
      • ‘What are the practices that work best within specific watersheds and regions?’
      • ‘Bailey Woods drains southward into the Yocona River watershed.’
      • ‘During this period of joint occupation in the Columbia River watershed, neither Great Britain nor the United States had a governmental representative in the area.’
      • ‘Since so little was known of the species' ecology or distribution, work concentrated in the central piedmont, especially the Broad River watershed.’
      • ‘The Penobscot River drains the largest watershed in Maine and is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's flagship river for the restoration of Atlantic salmon in the country.’
      • ‘During the last 10 years he has moved on to restoring the entire watershed.’
      • ‘We can do this while protecting critical watersheds, forest aesthetics and wildlife.’
      • ‘Benefit the environment by protecting watersheds and enhancing wildlife habitats and biodiversity.’
      • ‘The objective of this study was to characterize the vegetation of forested floodplain wetlands along a 66 km stretch of river within the upper Passaic River watershed.’
      • ‘Then, about 13,000 years ago, the southern edge of the ice sheet retreated past the divide that separates the Mississippi watershed from areas that drain northward.’
      • ‘Opponents of the project worry the resulting salty waste water will find its way into the local watershed and into river systems leading south into Montana.’
      • ‘The Pearl River watershed includes an area containing one-eighth of mainland China's population.’
      • ‘The ecosystem analyses have since expanded to look at regions - the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Puget Sound, and the Denver / Front Range area.’
      • ‘An overpopulated forest, he insists, is an ecosystem gone wrong - a disaster for wildlife and plant diversity, a drain on watersheds, and a firestorm waiting to happen.’
      • ‘These sources are particularly important because the rivers drain watersheds that don't receive much summer rainfall and where rates of evaporation are relatively high.’
      • ‘The proximity of the Passaic River watershed to major urban centers has led to rapid urban and suburban expansion in this region that creates increased potential for these wetlands to be further degraded.’
      • ‘It is the largest river between the great Niger and Congo rivers, and its watershed drains the whole of Gabon.’
      • ‘The site encompasses an entire watershed and thus provides a unique educational opportunity.’
  • 2An event or period marking a turning point in a situation.

    ‘these works were a watershed in the history of music’
    • ‘Publication of this story marks a watershed in American political history.’
    • ‘The cabinet meeting tonight marks something of a watershed for all involved in the Lydiard Park restoration project because at one stage it looked as if it would stutter to a halt.’
    • ‘This election could prove to be a watershed in modern Canadian politics.’
    • ‘The decade of the 1960s marks a watershed in the history of American ethnic relations.’
    • ‘For the last week or more, Taiwan has been in the throes of the early stages of a major, perhaps a watershed, political scandal.’
    • ‘Well, I think it was a historic watershed.’
    • ‘They mark 1973 as the watershed year in American economy, when the U.S. started lowering import tariffs from 40 per cent to the current average of five per cent.’
    • ‘The 19th Century marked a watershed in the art history of India.’
    • ‘Earle thinks this fall's election will be a watershed in civic politics.’
    • ‘Arnold's response to that question was a watershed moment in his political life.’
    • ‘This article argues that the 1997 crisis signifies an important watershed in modern Korean economic history.’
    • ‘The year 2000 is shaping up to be another historic watershed.’
    • ‘The Year of the Four Emperors marks a real watershed in the history of the Empire.’
    • ‘In mythic terms, though, the destruction of the Second Temple was a watershed event in Jewish history - the most decisive since Moses came down from Mt. Sinai.’
    • ‘The Kosovo War was a watershed event that profoundly changed the political situation.’
    • ‘The arrival of mass consumerism is perhaps the major watershed in European social history between the middle and end of the twentieth century.’
    • ‘This essay starts from the observation that the 1993 general election marked a major watershed in Canadian party politics.’
    • ‘Naturalization rates increased during the 1920s, but the next decade was marked by a political watershed.’
    • ‘The Toronto meeting, attended by 48 nations, was the major political watershed.’
    • ‘We serve in our military today at a watershed event in the history of modern warfare.’
    critical moment, decisive moment, crossroads, crisis, climacteric, moment of truth
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1British The time after which programmes that are regarded as unsuitable for children are broadcast on television.
      ‘the 9 p.m. watershed’
      • ‘To give a recent example, porn satellite channel Xplicit XXX has been fined £50,000 for broadcasting hard-core sex scenes before the 9pm watershed.’
      • ‘Should soaps with adult storylines be scheduled after the 9pm watershed?’
      • ‘Rather than banning all alcohol advertising before the 9pm television watershed, a system of audience profiling will be used.’
      • ‘Where television has a watershed, and a schedule you can check, the internet is a 24/7 whirlpool of information devoid of any moral context.’
      • ‘He also suggested television companies should not show close-ups of footballers swearing before the 9pm watershed.’
      • ‘Complaints about TV soaps have soared to a new high prompting a warning from the Broadcasting Standards Commission about intense violence before the 9pm watershed.’
      • ‘It's on a minority channel at 10.00 pm tomorrow night - well after the watershed.’
      • ‘If I want to see a film with sex or violence in it then I should be able to watch it at a reasonable hour and as the watershed is 9pm then that is when suitable adult programmes should be on.’
      • ‘There is strong support for the watershed as the point at which programme content can become progressively more adult in tone.’
      • ‘Warnings about the language will be given and it will be broadcast well after the watershed.’
      • ‘Why watch a programme, broadcast well after the watershed, if you know you are going to be offended by it?’
      • ‘More than three-quarters thought adult storylines should be scheduled after the 9pm watershed.’
      • ‘Shown on Halloween 1992 just after the 9pm watershed, Ghostwatch created something of a stir for purporting to be a live broadcast investigating nationwide claims of paranormal phenomena.’
      • ‘Yet, as the survey itself reveals, most Irish people are relatively relaxed about these issues, believing that there's a time and a place for all three in broadcasting - after the 9pm watershed.’
      • ‘Come on, this incident was broadcast well after the watershed and I cannot believe that anyone who watched the show wasn't either expecting or hoping for some confrontation.’
      • ‘It was before the watershed though - maybe the unedited version was on later.’
      • ‘His conclusion, for a programme that went out before the 9pm watershed, deserved an X-certificate.’
      • ‘There's a fabulous moment when live coverage of his first miracle is abruptly halted - because it's the BBC and he's sworn before the watershed.’
      • ‘It was a programme, on after the watershed, exploring why certain things are taboo and social reactions, after all.’
      • ‘Some people think the watershed no longer serves any purpose, whether on television or radio.’


Early 19th century: from water + shed in the sense ‘ridge of high ground’ (related to shed), suggested by German Wasserscheide.