Topography is a detailed map of the surface features of land. It includes the mountains, hills, creeks, and other bumps and lumps on a particular hunk of earth.

This handy word is a Greek-rooted combo of topos meaning "place" and graphein "to write." The suffix -graphy means writing or representation made in a specific way, and shows up in familiar words like photography, oceanography, or even geography, which is similar to topography, but refers to where things are, but not what's on top. Topography represents a particular area in detail, including everything natural and man-made — hills, valleys, roads, or lakes. It's the geographical contours of the land.

Definitions of topography

n the configuration of a surface and the relations among its man-made and natural features

Type of:
configuration, conformation, contour, form, shape
any spatial attributes (especially as defined by outline)

n precise detailed study of the surface features of a region

topographic study of a given place (especially the history of the place as indicated by its topography)
Type of:
geographics, geography
study of the earth's surface; includes people's responses to topography and climate and soil and vegetation

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.