AskDefine | Define boulder

Dictionary Definition



1 a large smooth mass of rock detached from its place of origin [syn: bowlder]
2 a town in north central Colorado; Rocky Mountains resort center and university town

User Contributed Dictionary



From bullersten, noisy stone


  • /ˈbəʊldə/ italbrac RP
  • /ˈboʊldər/ italbrac US



  1. A large piece of stone that can theoretically be moved if enough force is applied.

Derived terms


a large piece of stone that can theoretically be moved if enough force is applied

Extensive Definition

In geology, a boulder is a rock with grain size of usually no less than 256 mm (10 inches) diameter. While a boulder may be small enough to move or roll manually, others are extremely massive. In common usage, a boulder is too large for a person to move. Smaller boulders are usually just called rocks or stones. The word boulder comes from Middle English "bulder" which was probably of Scandinavian origin such as dialectal Swedish "bullersten" meaning "noisy stone" (Imagine a large stone in a stream, causing water to roar around it) from "bullra" (to roar, cf. Dutch "bulderen", with the same meaning) and "steen" (stone).
In places covered by ice sheets during Ice Ages, such as Scandinavia, northern North America, and Russia, ice has moved and formed granite boulders that or glacial erratics. One of the largest is used as the pedestal of the Bronze Horseman in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Some noted rock formations involve giant boulders exposed by erosion, such as the Devil's Marbles in Australia's Northern Territory, the Wairere Boulders in New Zealand, where an entire valley contains only boulders, and The Baths on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
The climbing of large boulders often requires developing special abilities, and has given rise, since the late 19th century, to the sport of bouldering.
boulder in Spanish: Bloque (roca)
boulder in Japanese: 巨礫
boulder in Lithuanian: Riedulys
boulder in Russian: Валуны
boulder in Ukrainian: Валуни
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