Alluvial – Definition & Meaning

Alluvial is a term that is often used in geology and geography to describe a type of sediment or soil that is deposited by water. It is a term that is commonly used in discussions of river systems, floodplains, and other areas where water plays a significant role in shaping the landscape. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of alluvial, as well as its origins, associations, synonyms, antonyms, and usage in example sentences.


Alluvial is an adjective that is used to describe sediment or soil that has been deposited by water. This can include materials such as sand, silt, clay, and gravel, which are often found in river beds, floodplains, and other areas where water flows. Alluvial can also be used to describe the process of deposition itself, as well as the geological formations that result from it.


The word alluvial comes from the Latin word alluvius, which means “washed against.” It was first used in English in the early 17th century to describe the sedimentary deposits that are often found in river valleys and floodplains. The term has since been adopted by geologists and other scientists to describe a wide range of natural phenomena related to water and sediment.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, alluvial means “relating to or composed of alluvium.” Alluvium, in turn, is defined as “the material deposited by a river or other running water; specifically, the sand, silt, clay, gravel, or other detritus that is transported by a river and deposited on its floodplain or delta.”
Merriam-Webster defines alluvial as “relating to, composed of, or found in alluvium.” Alluvium is defined as “clay, silt, sand, gravel, or similar detrital material deposited by running water.”


Alluvial is often associated with river systems, floodplains, and other areas where water plays a major role in shaping the landscape. It is also associated with sedimentary rocks, which are formed from the accumulation of sediment over time. Alluvial deposits are often rich in minerals and other valuable resources, such as gold, diamonds, and oil.


Some synonyms of alluvial include:

  • Sedimentary.
  • Detrital.
  • Fluvial.
  • Riverine.
  • Deltaic.


There are no direct antonyms of alluvial, as it is a term that describes a specific type of sediment or soil. However, some related terms that could be considered antonyms include:

  • Igneous (referring to rocks that are formed from volcanic activity).
  • Metamorphic (referring to rocks that have been transformed by heat and pressure).
  • Glacial (referring to sediment that is transported by glaciers).

The same root words

Alluvial shares its root with several other words related to water and sediment, including:

  • Alluvion.
  • Alluviate.
  • Alluvionary.

Example Sentences

Here are some example sentences that use the word alluvial:

  • The alluvial soil in this area is perfect for growing crops.
  • The gold rush of the 19th century was driven by the discovery of alluvial deposits in California.
  • The river has been eroding the alluvial deposits along its banks for centuries.
  • The alluvial fan at the base of the mountain is a popular spot for hikers and rock climbers.
  • The alluvial plain is prone to flooding during heavy rainstorms.
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