As I understand, the term drop-off can mean a steep decline in, say, sales; however, an abrupt cliff is not called a drop-off. Only in American English is drop-off used to describe a cliff's steep gradient. What would the proper British English term be for an all but vertical cliff gradient?

  • A "sheer drop" is what I think I would call it. You are right that we would not use "drop-off" in Britain for this. Apart from your sales example, it is most often used in the sense of a delivery - "Please would you drop-off these samples XYZ Ltd on your way home".
    – WS2
    Jul 21, 2018 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


In British and American English, a 'sheer drop' is common if the cliff is vertical or nearly so.

Sheer (Cambridge)

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