TECHNICAL TERMS IN CIVIL ENGINEERING
a well for draining off surface water and conducting it to absorbent earth underground.
Also called"dry well, waste well."
a perforated pipe driven into the ground for pumping out collected ground water;
air lock Civ. Eng.
an airtight chamber permitting passage to or from a space, as in a caisson, in
which the air is kept under pressure.
(n.) any device for securing a suspension or cantilever bridge at either end.
(n.) (in a suspension bridge) a massive masonry or concrete construction securing a cable at
(on a suspension or cantilever bridge) a span from an anchorage to the nearest pier or
(n.) a dam construction having the form of a barrel vault running vertically with its convex
face toward the impounded water.
a dam resisting the pressure of impounded water by an arch principle, esp. a dam
having in plan the form of a single arch abutted by natural rock formations.
a truss having an archlike form but unlike a true arch in that it is free to move
horizontally at its base, as in expanding or contracting because of temperature changes.
Cf. braced arch.(n.) a mixture of such substances with gravel, crushed rock, or the like, used for paving.
(n.) material used for refilling an excavation.
(v.t.) to refill (an excavation).
(n.) a revetment, consisting of heavy material sewn into bags, for protecting embankments
a temporary bridge formed of prefabricated, interchangeable, steel truss panels bolted
(n.) an embankment for buttressing the base of a levee and forming a berm.
(n.) Civ. Engin. an artificial obstruction in a watercourse to increase the depth of the water,
facilitate irrigation, etc.
(n.) a device operating like a balance or seesaw, esp. an arrangement of a movable bridge by
which the rising floor or section is counterbalanced by a weight.
(n.) a foundation surface of earth or rock supporting a track, pavement, or the like:
a gravel bed for the roadway.
(n.) a broad, flexible strip of rubber, canvas, wood, etc., moved along the surface of a fresh
concrete pavement to put a finish on it after it has been floated.
(n.) Civ. Eng. a transverse frame, as of a bridge or an aqueduct, designed to support either
vertical or horizontal loads.
(n.) a road covered with blacktop.
(adj.) pertaining to or surfaced with blacktop: Example: a blacktop driveway.
(n.) a layer of sand or fine gravel for filling the gaps in the surfaces of a road or pavement,
as one of crushed and compacted stone.
(n.) an unwanted flow of water and solid matter into an excavation, due to excessive outside
(n.) a structural member on which one end of a bridge truss rests.
(v.t.) to form, make, or construct (a tunnel, mine, well, passage, etc.) by hollowing out,
cutting through, or removing a core of material: Example: to bore a tunnel through the
Alps; to bore an oil well 3000 feet deep.
a pit from which construction material, as sand or gravel, is taken for use as fill at
(n.) pavement made with small boulders.
an arch of steel, timber, etc., having a trusslike framework maintaining rigidity under a
variety of eccentric loads: a true arch because it is fixed or tied at both sides of the base.
Cf. arched truss.(n.) the act or process of removing and disassembling equipment that has been used in
drilling a well.
(n.) a structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road, or the like.
(n.) Civ. Engin. the art or process of bridge building.
(n.) (in a dam) a concave surface at the foot of a spillway for deflecting the downward flow
(n.) the construction of bulkheads; bulkheads in general.
(v.t.) to clear, level, or reshape the contours of (land) by or as if by using a bulldozer:
to bulldoze a building site.
(v.t.) to clear away by or as if by using a bulldozer: Example: to bulldoze trees from a site.
(n.) a large, powerful tractor having a vertical blade at the front end for moving earth, tree
stumps, rocks, etc.
a machine for giving the final surfacing to an area of concrete, as on a road.
(n.) a very strong rope made of strands of metal wire, as used to support cable cars or
(n.) a cord of metal wire used to operate or pull a mechanism.
(n.) a structure used in underwater work, consisting of an airtight chamber, open at the
bottom and containing air under sufficient pressure to exclude the water.
(n.) a boatlike structure used as a gate for a dock or the like.
(v.t.,) to line (the bank of a river) with campshot.
(n.) a facing of planks and piles placed along the bank of a river to prevent erosion.
(in a drain or sewer) a chain of steps for dissipating the momentum of falling water in a
steep place in order to maintain a steady rate of flow.
(n.) a steel pipe or tubing, esp. as used in oil and gas wells.
a receptacle, located where a street gutter opens into a sewer, designed to retain matter
that would not readily pass through the sewer.
(n.) something for catching water, as a reservoir or basin.
(n.) the water that is caught in such a catchment.
(n.) a raised road or path, as across low or wet ground.
(n.) a highway or paved way.
(v.t.) to pave (a road or street) with cobblestones or pebbles.
(v.t.) to provide with a causeway.
(n.) (in a canal or the like) the space between any two gates of a lock.
(n., pl.) one of the planks forming the roadway of a floating bridge.
a person who designs public works, as roads, bridges, canals, dams, and harbors, or
supervises their construction or maintenance.
(n.) an instrument for determining angles of inclination or slope.
(n.) a watertight enclosure placed or constructed in waterlogged soil or under water and
pumped dry so that construction or repairs can proceed under normal conditions.
(adj.) Engin. noting a determinate truss having the least number of members required to
connect the panel points so as to form a system of triangles. Cf. incomplete (def.
(v.t.) to build (a road, railroad track, etc.) in conformity with the contour of the land.
(adj.) constructed of logs laid together transversely, as a road across swampy ground.
(v.t.) to form (a road or the like) by laying logs transversely.
(v.t.) to make a corduroy road across or along.
(n.) a buttress, esp. one for strengthening a basement wall against the pressure of earth.
(n.) a cantilevered weight, as in a retaining wall, having the form of a pier built on the side
of the material to be retained.
(n.) a barrier projecting part of the way into a river and then upward, acting to reduce the
flow of water and as a storage place for logs being floated downstream.
(n.) a lining for a well or other shaft.
(n.) a bridge or other structure for crossing over a river, highway, etc.
a street crossing another street.
a short street connecting main streets.
(n.) a lane marked off for pedestrians to use when crossing a street, as at an intersection.
(n.) the highest point of any construction of convex section or outline, as an arch, vault,
deck, or road.
(n.) a drain or channel crossing under a road, sidewalk, etc.; sewer; conduit.
(n.) a rim, esp. of joined stones or concrete, along a street or roadway, forming an edge for a
(n.) Engin. the cutting edge at the bottom of a caisson.
(n.) the material forming a curb, as along a street.
(n.) curbstones collectively.
(n.) a curb, or a section of a curb.
(n.) one of the stones, or a range of stones, forming a curb, as along a street.
(n.) a method for digging a tunnel, laying pipe, etc., by cutting a trench, constructing the
tunnel or laying the pipe in it, and covering with the excavated material.
(n.) Civ. Engin. a sharply pointed upstream face of a bridge pier, for resisting the effects of
moving water or ice.
(n.) a barrier to obstruct the flow of water, esp. one of earth, masonry, etc., built across a
stream or river.
(n.) a body of water confined by a dam.
(v.t.) to furnish with a dam; obstruct or confine with a dam.
(adj.) Civ. Engin. (of a bridge truss) having a deck or floor upon or above the structure. Cf.
(v.i.) to undergo deformation.
(n.) a gauge used to determine stresses in a structure by tests on a model of the structure.
(v.t.) to form or excavate (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by removing material.
(n.) an embankment for controlling or holding back the waters of the sea or a river:
They built a temporary dike of sandbags to keep the river from flooding the
(n.) a bank of earth formed of material being excavated.
(n.) a causeway.
(v.t.) to furnish or drain with a dike.
(v.t.) to enclose, restrain, or protect by a dike: Example: to dike a tract of land.
(n.) a power excavating machine designed to remove earth in a continuous line and to a
predetermined width and depth, as by means of a rotating belt equipped with scoops.
(n.) (in a dam) a semidome having its convex surface toward the impounded water.
(v.t.) to add a second deck to (a bridge) or a second level to (a road).
an excavating crane having a bucket that is dropped from a boom and dragged toward
the crane base by a cable. Also called"dragline."
(n.) a system of drains, artificial or natural.
(n.) a conduit, ditch, or the like, for draining water from an area.
(n.) an open area, the soil of which absorbs the contents of a septic tank.
(n.) a bridge of which the whole or a section may be drawn up, let down, or drawn aside, to
prevent access or to leave a passage open for boats, barges, etc.
(n.) any of various powerful machines for dredging up or removing earth, as from the
bottom of a river, by means of a scoop, a series of buckets, a suction pipe, or the like.
(n.) a barge on which such a machine is mounted.
(n.) a dragnet or other contrivance for gathering material or objects from the bottom of a
river, bay, etc.
(v.t.) to clear out with a dredge; remove sand, silt, mud, etc., from the bottom of.
(v.t.) to take, catch, or gather with a dredge; obtain or remove by a dredge.
(v.i.) to use a dredge.
(n.) Civ. Engin. a secondary tunnel between two main tunnels or shafts.
a drainage pit lined with loose stonework for the leaching of liquid wastes.
a pond or tank having a false bottom covered with sand and serving to filter river or
a hydrant for use in extinguishing fires. Also called
(n.) a board, or one of a series of boards, as on a milldam, used to increase the depth of the
(n.) the act of creating an artificial flood in a conduit or stream, as in a sewer for cleansing
a bridge, as from a pier to a boat, floating at one end and hinged at the other to permit
loading and unloading at any level of water.
a foundation used in yielding soil, having for its footing a raft tending to displace a
weight greater than that of the building.
the act or technique of controlling river flow with dams, dikes, artificial channels, etc.,
so as to minimize the occurrence of floods.
(n.) Civ. Engin. a gate designed to regulate the flow of water.
flood wall Civ. Engin.
a wall built along a shore or bank to prevent floods by giving a raised,
uniform freeboard and by allowing unimpeded flow to water in a channel.
(n.) the channel and adjacent shore areas under water during a flood, esp. as determined for
a flood of a given height.
(n.) an artificial channel or trough for conducting water, as one used to transport logs or
provide water power.
(v.t.) to transport in a flume.
(v.t.) to divert (a stream) by a flume.
(n.) a bridge intended for pedestrians only.
(n.) Civ. Engin. the height of the watertight portion of a building or other construction
above a given level of water in a river, lake, etc.
(n.) a metal cylinder filled with stones and sunk in water, used in laying the foundations of a
dam or jetty.
(n., pl.) a house or structure at the gate of a dam, reservoir, etc., with equipment or controls for
regulating the flow of water.
(n.) a road-surfacing material composed of asphalt and crushed glass.
(v.t.) to reduce to a level or to practicable degrees of inclination: Example: to grade a road.
(n.) a composition stone for pavements, made from crushed granite or the like and cement.
a dam resisting the pressure of impounded water through its own weight.
(n.) Also,"groyne."a small jetty extending from a shore to prevent beach erosion.
an artificial pond for maintaining a head of water at a water mill.
(n.) a hard-surfaced area on which heavy vehicles or airplanes can be parked.
a control gate at the upstream end of a canal or lock.
a floodgate of a race, sluice, etc.
(n.) the race, flume, or channel leading to a water wheel or the like.
(v.t.) to bore (a tunnel, passage, etc.).
a structure built in a river upstream from a bridge pier or the like for protection against
(adj.) Engin. noting a truss the panel points of which are not entirely connected so as to form
a system of triangles. Cf. complete (def. 8),"redundant"(def. 5c).
a conduit, built in permeable earth, for collecting ground water.
the central area of any horizontal section of a wall, column, etc., within which the
resultant forces of all compressive loads must pass if there is to be only compression at
(n.) a depression or slot carved into rock to provide a bond or anchorage for a structure, as a
(n.) an artificial pool for storage and treatment of polluted or excessively hot sewage,
industrial waste, etc.
(n.) a low area of land that is built up from deposits of solid refuse in layers covered by soil.
(n.) the solid refuse itself.
a canal running parallel to a stream that is inconvenient or impossible to navigate.
one of a number of irrigation canals distributing water from a main canal.
a trusslike girder having the upper and lower chords connected by latticing.
(n.) a section of a drawbridge.
(n.) an embankment designed to prevent the flooding of a river.
(v.t.) to furnish with a levee: Example: to levee a treacherous stream.
a bridge having a section that can be lifted vertically to permit passage of boats beneath
it. Also called"vertical lift bridge."
(n.) an enclosed chamber in a canal, dam, etc., with gates at each end, for raising or
lowering vessels from one level to another by admitting or releasing water.
(v.t.) to furnish with locks, as a canal.
(v.i.) to construct locks in waterways.
(n.) the construction, use, or operation of locks, as in a canal or stream.
a broadened section of a canal before the gates of a lock.
(n.) a macadamized road or pavement.
(n.) the broken stone used in making such a road.
(v.t.,) to pave by laying and compacting successive layers of broken stone, often with asphalt
or hot tar.
(n.) a principal pipe or duct in a system used to distribute water, gas, etc.
(n.) a hole, usually with a cover, through which a person may enter a sewer, drain, steam
boiler, etc., esp. one located in a city street.
an air lock serving as a decompression chamber for workers.
(v.t.) Brit. to pave or surface (a road) with broken stone.
(n.) a dam built in a stream to furnish a head of water for turning a mill wheel.
(n.) a pond for supplying water to drive a mill wheel.
(n.) the channel in which the current of water driving a mill wheel flows to the mill.
(n.) (in a canal or the like) a lock gate having two leaves so made as to close at an angle
(n.) a massive structure, esp. of stone, set up in the water, as for a breakwater or a pier.
(n.) an anchorage or harbor protected by such a structure.
(n.) any of various mechanical devices, as the ram of a pile driver.
(n.) a type of boat, aircraft, or rocket construction in which the shell carries most of the
a deposit of sand or mud built up along, and sloping away from, either side of the flood
plain of a river or stream. Also called"levee."
an imaginary line in the cross section of a beam, shaft, or the like, along which no
(n.) (in a gate of a lock or sluice) a panel that slides to permit the passage of water.
a joint between two or more members of a truss. Also called
(n.) a paved road, highway, etc.
(n.) a paved surface, ground covering, or floor.
(n.) a material used for paving.
(n.) the laying of a pavement.
a sluice gate that opens by lifting upward.
(n.) a pipe conducting water from a head gate to a waterwheel.
(n.) a conduit for conveying water to a power plant.
(n.) a sluicelike contrivance used to control the flow of water.
(n.) a structure built on posts extending from land out over water, used as a landing place
for ships, an entertainment area, a strolling place, etc.; jetty.
(n.) (in a bridge or the like) a support for the ends of adjacent spans.
(n.) the outermost end of a pier or wharf.
(n.) conveyance, as of water, gas, or oil, by means of pipes.
(v.t.) to supply with pipes.
(n.) pipes collectively; a system or network of pipes.
(n.) material formed into a pipe or pipes.
(n.) upward or downward inclination or slope: Example: a road descending at a steep pitch.
an iron or steel beam built up from plates and shapes welded or riveted together, usually
including a plate or plates for a web, four angle irons forming two flanges, and a pair of
plates to reinforce the flanges.
(n.) a float for a derrick, landing stage, etc.
a bridge supported by pontoons.
a through bridge truss having its deck between the top and bottom chords and having no
top lateral bracing.
(n.) a hole formed in pavement, as by excessive use or by extremes of weather.
(n.) a stick, rod, pole, beam, or other rigid support.
(n.) clay or the like mixed with water and tempered, used as a waterproof lining for the
walls of canals, ditches, etc.
(v.t.) to make (clay or the like) into puddle.
(n.) a steel tower or mast carrying high-tension lines, telephone wires, or other cables and
(n.) an artificial channel leading water to or from a place where its energy is utilized.
(n.) the current of water in such a channel.
(n.) a current of water, as a millrace.
ravel or (esp.
(v.i.) (of a road surface) to lose aggregate.
(n.) a level portion of a canal, between locks.
right of way
(pl.) land covered by a public road.
any machine for rolling road materials flat.
a dam built mainly of rocks of various sizes fitted compactly together.
(on certain dams) a cylindrical gate that rises and falls by rotating against inclined
(n.) a small channel, as for water.
(n.) (in a suspension bridge) a member at the top of a tower for supporting a cable.
a branch of civil engineering dealing with matters affecting public health, as water
supply or sewage disposal.
(v.t.,) to break up (a road surface).
(v.t.) to clear or dig out (a channel, drain, etc.) as by the force of water, by removing debris,
(v.t.) to level (an unpaved road) with a grader.
a pile that is used for the foundations of bridges, lighthouses, etc., and has a screwlike
lower end for drilling through and taking firm hold in compacted material.
a navigable channel giving access to the sea.
secondary stress Engin.
a stress induced by the elastic deformation of a structure under a temporary
a tank for holding liquid until particles suspended in it settle.
(n.) the waste matter that passes through sewers.
(n.) an artificial conduit, usually underground, for carrying off waste water and refuse, as in
a town or city.
(n.) the removal of waste water and refuse by means of sewers.
a ribbed wooden ball for scraping the walls of a sewer through which it floats.
one of a number of piles, usually flat, driven side by side to retain earth, etc., or to
prevent seepage into an excavation. Also called"sheath pile."
(n.) Engineering. the curved solid forming a dome or vault.
a canal navigable by ships.
(n.) the act of setting up shores.
(n.) any fairly large contrivance or machine with a broad blade or scoop for taking up or
removing loose matter: Example: a steam shovel.
(v.t.) to lower or depress the level of: Example: They sank the roadway by five feet.
(v.t.) to bury, plant, or lay (a pipe, conduit, etc.) into or as if into the ground.
(v.t.) to dig, bore, or excavate (a hole, shaft, well, etc.).
(n.) a drain or sewer.
(n.) a device or place for disposing of energy within a system, as a power-consuming device
in an electrical circuit or a condenser in a steam engine.
(n.) any pond or pit for sewage or waste, as a cesspool or a pool for industrial wastes.
(n.) the operator of a piece of heavy equipment used in clearing land or in construction
work, as a tractor or bulldozer.
a form into which concrete is poured that can be slowly moved and reused in
construction, as of a pavement or a building.
(n.) sediment deposited during the treatment of sewage.
(n.) an artificial channel for conducting water, often fitted with a gate(sluice gate§) at the
upper end for regulating the flow.
(n.) the body of water held back or controlled by a sluice gate.
(n.) any contrivance for regulating a flow from or into a receptacle.
(n.) a channel, esp. one carrying off surplus water; drain.
(n.) a stream of surplus water.
(n.) an artificial stream or channel of water for moving solid matter: Example: a lumbering
(v.t.) to flush or cleanse with a rush of water: Example: to sluice the decks of a boat.
(v.t.) to send (logs) down a sluiceway.
(n.) a channel controlled by a sluice gate.
(n.) any artificial channel for water.
the unpaved edge of a road.
(n.) a passageway through which surplus water escapes from a reservoir, lake, or the like.
a spiral passage for directing the water from a penstock around a water turbine and into
(v.t.) Logging. to move (logs) by releasing a body of water from a splash dam.
(n.) a pointed cluster of pilings for protecting a bridge pier from drifting ice, debris, etc.
(n.) steel parts or articles.
(n.) the steel frame or superstructure of a building, bridge, etc.
(v.t.) to dam up; stop the flow of (a stream, river, or the like).
a traffic sign requiring a motorist to stop before continuing.
a sewer for carrying off rainfall drained from paved surfaces, roofs, etc. Also
(n.) Civ. Engin. a longitudinal bridge girder for supporting part of a deck or railroad track
between bents or piers.
(n.) the foundations, piers, and abutments upon which the trusses or girders of the spans of a
(n.) refuse or waste; sewage.
(n.) silt; sediment.
(n.) an area of city land larger than the usual block, treated according to a unified plan and
generally closed to vehicular through traffic.
(n.) any structure built on something else.
(n.) the part of a bridge that rests on the piers and abutments.
(n.) a hanging cable or chain in a suspension bridge connecting the deck with the suspension
cable or chain.
a bridge having a deck suspended from cables anchored at their extremities and usually
raised on towers.
a bridge that can open by pivoting on a central pier to let vessels pass.
(n.) the race, flume, or channel leading away from a waterwheel or the like.
(n.) the water in a tailrace.
(v.t.) to open outlets from (power lines, highways, pipes, etc.).
(n.) (l.c.) a road, airport runway, parking area, etc., paved with Tarmac, tarmacadam, or a
layer of tar.
(n.) (l.c.) a layer or covering of Tarmac, tarmacadam, or tar.
(n.) a paving material consisting of coarse crushed stone covered with a mixture of tar and
(adj.) noting a form of road pavement composed of compacted and rolled stones of various
(adj.) (of a bridge truss) having a deck or decks within the depth of the structure.
a branch of civil engineering concerned with the design and construction of streets and
roads that will best facilitate traffic movement.
a bridge in which the loads are supported by trusses.
(n.) the members that form a truss.
(n.) an underground passage.
(n.) a passageway, as for trains or automobiles, through or under an obstruction, as a city,
mountain, river, harbor, or the like.
(v.t.) to construct a passageway through or under: Example: to tunnel a mountain.
(v.t.) to make or excavate (a tunnel or underground passage): Example: to tunnel a passage
under a river.
(v.t.) to pierce or hollow out, as with tunnels.
(v.i.) to make a tunnel or tunnels: Example: to tunnel through the Alps.
the quantity of the utmost tensile, compressive, or shearing stress that a given unit area
of a certain material is expected to bear without failing. Also called"ul timate stress ."
(n.) a drain placed beneath the surface of cultivated fields, streets, etc.
(v.t.) to equip or supply with an underdrain or underdrains.
(n.) drainage of agricultural lands and removal of excess water and of alkali by drains
buried beneath the surface.
a stress upon a structure at a certain place, expressed in units of force per unit of crosssectional
area, as in pounds per square inch.
(n.) a bridge for carrying a road, railroad, etc., over a valley or the like, consisting of a
number of short spans.
(n.) an embankment to prevent flooding, as a levee or sea wall.
(n.) a channel or canal made for the conveyance of water.
a gate for halting or controlling the flow of water in a watercourse; floodgate.
a gateway leading to the edge of a body of water, as at a landing.
a main pipe or conduit in a system for conveying water.
a fireplug; hydrant.
the supply of purified water available to a community.
the facilities for storing and supplying this water, as reservoirs and pipelines.
a system of supplying water, as throughout a metropolitan area.
(n., pl.) (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a complete system of reservoirs, pipelines, conduits, etc.,
by which water is collected, purified, stored, and pumped to urban users.
(n., pl.) (used with a sing. v.) a pumping station or a purifying station of such a system.
any of the structural members of a truss between the chords.
(n.) a small dam in a river or stream.
(n.) a small gate by which a canal lock is emptied.
a jetty for diverting the current of a stream. Also called
"spur, spur dike."