altitude vs elevation

Robin Leech robinl at NAIT.AB.CA
Fri Dec 6 08:30:49 CST 1996

I guess it all depends on the quality of the dictionary one uses.  I
quote here from the OED (Oxford English Dictionary - the 20 volume set):

I cannot include all the italics, etc., but...

1. gen.  Vertical extent or distance; the quality of being high or deep
as one of the dimensions of space; height or depth.

2. geom.

3.  Height of a mercurial column in a barometer. Obs.?

4.  Height above the ground, or, (in italics) _strictly_, above the level
of the sea; height in the air, loftiness.

1.      process or result of elevating.
1.a.    the action of lifting up or raising aloft; also, the giving of an
        upward direction to anything.
  b.    erection. Obs.
  c.    the lifting up of the Host for the adoration of the people.
  d.    the lifting up of the soul...
  e.    a dancer's leap or jump...


10.a.   a particular height or altitude above a given level; as the
        height of a locality above the level of the sea;...

As you can see, Meaning 4 in Altitude beats Meaning 10.a. in Elevation.

In the Webster's 3rd International Dictionary:

under 1 b: the vertical elevation of an object above a given level (as a
foundation, the ground, or sea level) <a city with an [altitude] of 2547

1: the height to which something is elevated...

[then down at]

1 C: the height above sea level: ALTITUDE

I think I will use my new elevometer when I go up in the altituder today in
the building where I work.

Robin Leech

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