Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A ridge of high land dividing two areas that are drained by different river systems. Also called water parting.
  • n. The region draining into a river, river system, or other body of water.
  • n. A critical point that marks a division or a change of course; a turning point: "a watershed in modern American history, a time that ... forever changed American social attitudes” ( Robert Reinhold).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The topographical boundary dividing two adjacent catchment basins, such as a ridge or a crest.
  • n. A region of land within which water flows down into a specified body, such as a river, lake, sea, or ocean; a drainage basin.
  • n. A critical point marking a change in course or development.
  • n. The time after which material of more adult nature (violence, swear words, sex) may be broadcast on television or radio, either one laid down or one contrived (e.g. when children are not watching...)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The whole region or extent of country which contributes to the supply of a river or lake.
  • n. The line of division between two adjacent rivers or lakes with respect to the flow of water by natural channels into them; the natural boundary of a basin; -- called also divide and water parting.
  • n. a point in time marking an important transition between two situations, or phases of an activity; a turning point.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The area drained by a river and all its tributaries.
  • n. The edge of a river-basin (see river); the line separating the waters flowing into two different rivers or river-basins.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the entire geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries; an area characterized by all runoff being conveyed to the same outlet
  • n. a ridge of land that separates two adjacent river systems
  • n. an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend

Etymologies

Probably translation of German Wasserscheide : Wasser, water + Scheide, divide, parting.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
water +‎ shed, a calque of German Wasserscheide, a compound of Wasser ("water") + Scheide ("divide"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term watershed is used (especially in North America and Europe) to indicate an area of land from which all water falling as rain or snow would flow toward a single point.

    Watershed

  • Today Mr. Bush is touting what he calls a watershed event in Iraq and he's asking for patience from Americans who disapprove of his handling of the war in Iraq, 62 percent taken in our poll only last week.

    CNN Transcript May 22, 2006

  • Part of the reason Final Fantasy VII was such a watershed is that it was the first time most of us had played an RPG story where we got to see dramatic visuals of the characters in three dimensions.

    Great Big Bites

  • These hills separate this watershed from the neighboring Madeira-Tapajós moist forest.

    Tapajós-Xingu moist forests

  • Most of the watershed is blanketed by mature wet forests whose composition is poorly known.

    Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, Honduras

  • Your own confirmation hearing in 1987 is often called a watershed for the process.

    The View From 1987

  • It is appropriate that a historically significant date, such as June the 26th, will now in future also become known as a watershed day in the politics of this Province.

    FURTHER ELECTION RESULTS

  • By 1985 it became common to claim that the British civil service was at a crossroads (Wass, 1985; Harrison and Gratton, 1987; Fry, 1988), and the changes introduced in the British civil service after the Conservative victory in 1979 were described as a watershed in the evolution of British government (Metcalfe and Richards, 1987).

    Rediscovering Institutions

  • "The recent 2011 general election was described as a watershed by many people, and I wanted to see what this meant on the ground," he said.

    NYT > Home Page

  • All BEF customers and donors support long-term watershed restoration and renewable energy education for students and communities nationwide because BEF reinvests its net revenues to fund its Model Watershed and Solar 4R

    The Earth Times Online Newspaper

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Comments

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  • WordNet omits a specific broadcasting sense: the time in the evening after which material not considered suitable for children gets shown.

    April 4, 2009