1. A rugged range of mountains having an irregular or jagged profile.
2. Any of several mackerels of the genus Scomberomorus, especially S. sierra of warm Pacific coastal waters of the Americas.
[Spanish, saw, sierra, from Latin serra, saw.]
Word History: In English, the word sierra is probably best known for the names of certain mountain ranges, such as the Sierra Nevada (in Spanish, the "snowy sierra") of Spain, the similarly named Sierra Nevada of Eastern California, and the Sierra Madre (the "mother sierra") of Mexico. The English word sierra, "rugged range of mountains having an irregular or jagged profile," is a borrowing of Spanish sierra. In Spanish, sierra literally means "saw," but the word is also used in the extended meaning "line or group of mountains with a jagged profile." As a further example of how a word meaning "saw" can become a word meaning "mountain range," we need only mention the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
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