The Cambridge Dictionary defines 'waterfall' in this way: water, especially from a river or stream, dropping from a higher to a lower point, sometimes from a great height.

However, the Collins Dictionary defines 'waterfall' as a place where water flows over the edge of a steep, high cliff in hills or mountains, and falls into a pool below.

Also, the Wikipedia sources say that a waterfall is a place where water flows over a vertical drop or a series of steep drops in the course of a stream or river.

  • "Waterfall" refers to a location where there it falling water. I think you are misinterpreting the Cambridge definition. – Hot Licks Jun 13 '18 at 11:34
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    What exactly is the distinction you're trying to draw? Between the location where water drops from a height versus the water itself dropping from that height? – Mitch Jun 13 '18 at 11:48
  • I have seen some dried up places where water fell. – lbf Jun 13 '18 at 13:41
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    Isn't it obviously both? Water in the shape of a waterfall but without the geography around it, is that a waterfall? A precipice that used to have water going over it but has dried up, is that a waterfall? – Mitch Jun 13 '18 at 14:44
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    Indoor waterfalls (or artificial waterfalls) have nothing to do with geography. If one of them is built in a restaurant, for example, what makes it a waterfall is the water falling down—not the fact that it's at a particular location or that it involves a geographical element. – Jason Bassford Jun 13 '18 at 17:20

It's water first, the place comes next.

waterfall (ODOL)

A cascade of water falling from a height, formed when a river or stream flows over a precipice or steep incline.


Curiously, TFD provides this definition

n (Physical Geography) a cascade of falling water where there is a vertical or almost vertical step in a river


waterfall. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014).

(Retrieved June 14 2018)

Note the source and the date.

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