Ask Difference

Col vs. Pass — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 5, 2024
A col is a specific type of mountain pass, typically the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks, while a pass is any navigable route through mountainous areas.
Col vs. Pass — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Col and Pass

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Key Differences

A col is characterized as the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks, offering a natural crossing point. While a pass can refer to any type of navigable route through mountains or hills, regardless of its position on a ridge or its elevation.
Cols are often formed by the action of glaciers or erosion, carving out a saddle-like depression in the landscape. Passes, on the other hand, can be formed by a variety of geological processes, including river erosion, tectonic activity, and glacial movement. This means that while all cols are types of passes, not all passes are cols.
The significance of cols and passes goes beyond their geological formation; historically, they have been crucial for trade, migration, and military strategies. While a pass might be wider and less steep, making it easier for travel and transport, a col is typically more narrow and can be more challenging to navigate.
In mapping and navigation, cols are important markers for mountaineers and hikers, indicating a transition point between two peaks. Passes, with their broader definition, are significant in road and rail route planning, providing essential links through difficult terrain.

Comparison Chart

Definition

Lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.
Navigable route through mountainous or hilly terrain.
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Formation

Mainly by glaciers or erosion.
Various, including river erosion, tectonic activity, glacial movement.

Navigability

Narrower and potentially more difficult to traverse.
Generally wider and less steep, easier for travel.

Significance in Geography

Specific type of mountain pass.
Broader category that includes any navigable mountain route.

Historical Importance

Marker for mountaineers and hikers.
Essential for trade, migration, and military strategies.

Compare with Definitions

Col

Formed by Glaciers or Erosion.
Glacial activity carved out the col millions of years ago.

Pass

Navigable Mountain Route.
The pass allowed ancient traders to cross the mountain range.

Col

Navigational Marker.
Mountaineers use the col as a key navigational reference.

Pass

Strategic Military Routes.
Armies historically used the pass to launch surprise attacks.

Col

Lowest Point Between Peaks.
The col was a windy gap between the two towering mountains.

Pass

Formed by Various Processes.
Tectonic movements over centuries formed the wide pass.

Col

Challenge for Travel.
The steep sides of the col made it a challenging route for the hikers.

Pass

Facilitates Travel and Transport.
The pass is now used by a major highway cutting through the mountains.

Col

Specific Mountain Pass.
The col provided a natural crossing point on the mountain ridge.

Pass

Broader Than Cols.
The mountain's pass is one of many routes facilitating access through the rugged terrain.

Col

In geomorphology, a col is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks. It may also be called a gap.

Pass

To cause to move as part of a process
Pass liquid through a filter.

Col

A low point along a ridge, as between two mountain peaks.

Pass

To move on or ahead; proceed
The train passed through fields of wheat.

Col

(geography) A dip on a mountain ridge between two peaks.

Pass

To extend; run
The river passes through our land.

Col

(meteorology) A pressure region between two anticyclones and two low-pressure regions.

Pass

To move by or in front of something
The band passed and the crowd cheered.

Col

Clipping of column

Pass

To move past another vehicle
The sports car passed on the right.

Col

A short ridge connecting two higher elevations or mountains; the pass over such a ridge.

Pass

To gain passage despite obstacles
Pass through difficult years.

Col

A pass between mountain peaks

Pass

To move past in time; elapse
The days passed quickly.

Pass

To be transferred from one to another; circulate
The wine passed around the table.

Pass

(Sports) To transfer a ball or puck to a teammate.

Pass

To be communicated or exchanged between persons
Loud words passed in the corridor.

Pass

To be transferred or conveyed to another by will or deed
The title passed to the older heir.

Pass

To undergo transition from one condition, form, quality, or characteristic to another
Daylight passed into darkness.

Pass

To come to an end
My anger suddenly passed. The headache finally passed.

Pass

To cease to exist; die. Often used with on
The patient passed on during the night.

Pass

To happen; take place
Wanted to know what had passed at the meeting.

Pass

To be allowed to happen without notice or challenge
Let their rude remarks pass.

Pass

Sports & Games To decline one's turn to bid, draw, bet, compete, or play.

Pass

To decline an offer
When we offered him dessert, he passed.

Pass

To undergo an examination or a trial with favorable results.

Pass

To serve as a barely acceptable substitute
The spare tire was nearly bald but would pass until we bought a new one.

Pass

To be accepted as a member of a group by denying one's own ancestry or background.

Pass

To be approved or adopted
The motion to adjourn passed.

Pass

To make a decision
To pass upon a legal question.

Pass

To convey property to an heir or heirs
To pass according to the terms of the will.

Pass

(Medicine) To be discharged from a bodily part
The patient had a lot of pain when the kidney stone passed.

Pass

(Sports) To thrust or lunge in fencing.

Pass

To go by without stopping; proceed beyond or leave behind
The bus passed a gas station.

Pass

To go across; go through
We passed the border into Mexico.

Pass

To allow to go by or elapse; spend
He passed his winter in Vermont.

Pass

To go by without paying attention to; disregard or ignore
If you pass the new photographs in the collection, you'll miss some outstanding ones.

Pass

To fail to pay (a dividend).

Pass

To go beyond; surpass
The inheritance passed my wildest dreams.

Pass

To undergo (a trial or examination) with favorable results
She passed every test.

Pass

To cause or allow to go through a trial, test, or examination successfully
The instructor passed all the candidates.

Pass

To cause to move
We passed our hands over the fabric.

Pass

To cause to move into a certain position
Pass a ribbon around a package.

Pass

To cause to go by
The sergeant passed his troops before the grandstand.

Pass

To allow to cross a barrier
The border guard passed the tourists.

Pass

(Baseball) To walk (a batter).

Pass

To maneuver (the bull) by means of a pase in bullfighting.

Pass

To cause to be transferred from one to another; circulate
They passed the news quickly.

Pass

To hand over to someone else
Please pass the bread.

Pass

(Sports) To transfer (a ball, for example) to a teammate, as by throwing.

Pass

To cause to be accepted; circulate fraudulently
Pass counterfeit money.

Pass

(Law) To convey (property) to an heir or heirs
To pass an estate.

Pass

(Medicine) To discharge (a waste product, for example) from a bodily part.

Pass

(Medicine) To introduce (an instrument) into a bodily cavity.

Pass

To approve; adopt
The legislature passed the bill.

Pass

To be sanctioned, ratified, or approved by
The bill passed the House of Representatives.

Pass

To pronounce; utter
Pass judgment.
Pass sentence on an offender.

Pass

The act of passing; passage.

Pass

A way, such as a narrow gap between mountains, that affords passage around, over, or through a barrier.

Pass

A permit, ticket, or authorization to come and go at will.

Pass

A free ticket entitling one to transportation or admission.

Pass

Written leave of absence from military duty.

Pass

A passing grade, especially when graded using a pass-fail grading system.

Pass

A sweep or run, as by an aircraft, over or toward an area or target.

Pass

A single complete cycle of operations, as by a machine or computer program.

Pass

A condition or situation, often critical in nature; a predicament
Contract negotiations that had come to an emotional pass.

Pass

A motion of the hand or the waving of a wand
The magician made a pass over the hat.

Pass

(Sports) A transfer of a ball or puck between teammates.

Pass

(Sports) A lunge or thrust in fencing.

Pass

(Baseball) A base on balls.

Pass

Sports & Games A refusal to bid, draw, bet, compete, or play.

Pass

(Games) A winning throw of the dice in craps.

Pass

A pase in bullfighting.

Pass

To change place.

Pass

(intransitive) To move or be moved from one place to another.
They passed from room to room.

Pass

(transitive) To go past, by, over, or through; to proceed from one side to the other of; to move past.
You will pass a house on your right.

Pass

(ditransitive) To cause to move or go; to send; to transfer from one person, place, or condition to another.
The waiter passed biscuits and cheese.
John passed Suzie a note.
The torch was passed from hand to hand.

Pass

To take a turn with (a line, gasket, etc.), as around a sail in furling, and make secure.

Pass

(sport) To make various kinds of movement.

Pass

(intransitive) To go from one person to another.

Pass

(transitive) To put in circulation; to give currency to.
Pass counterfeit money

Pass

To cause to obtain entrance, admission, or conveyance.
Pass a person into a theater or over a railroad

Pass

To put through a sieve.
When it's finished cooking, you should pass the sauce to get rid of any lumps.

Pass

To change in state or status

Pass

(intransitive) To progress from one state to another; to advance.
He passed from youth into old age.

Pass

(intransitive) To depart, to cease, to come to an end.
At first, she was worried, but that feeling soon passed.

Pass

(intransitive) To die.
His grandmother passed yesterday.

Pass

To achieve a successful outcome from.
He attempted the examination, but did not expect to pass.
Of the Ancient Wonders, only the pyramids have passed the test of time.

Pass

To advance through all the steps or stages necessary to become valid or effective; to obtain the formal sanction of (a legislative body).
Despite the efforts of the opposition, the bill passed.
The bill passed both houses of Congress.
The bill passed the Senate, but did not pass in the House.

Pass

To be conveyed or transferred by will, deed, or other instrument of conveyance.
The estate passes by the third clause in Mr Smith's deed to his son.
When the old king passed away with only a daughter as an heir, the throne passed to a woman for the first time in centuries.

Pass

(transitive) To cause to advance by stages of progress; to carry on with success through an ordeal, examination, or action; specifically, to give legal or official sanction to; to ratify; to enact; to approve as valid and just.
He passed the bill through the committee.

Pass

To make a judgment on or upon a person or case.

Pass

(transitive) To utter; to pronounce; to pledge.

Pass

(intransitive) To change from one state to another (without the implication of progression).

Pass

To move through time.

Pass

To elapse, to be spent.
Their vacation passed pleasantly.

Pass

To spend.
What will we do to pass the time?

Pass

(transitive) To go by without noticing; to omit attention to; to take no note of; to disregard.

Pass

(intransitive) To continue.

Pass

(intransitive) To proceed without hindrance or opposition.
You're late, but I'll let it pass.

Pass

(transitive) To live through; to have experience of; to undergo; to suffer.

Pass

(intransitive) To happen.
It will soon come to pass.

Pass

To be accepted.

Pass

To be tolerated as a substitute for something else, to "do".
It isn't ideal, but it will pass.

Pass

To refrain from doing something.

Pass

(intransitive) To decline something that is offered or available.
He asked me to go to the cinema with him, but I think I'll pass.

Pass

(transitive) To reject; to pass up.

Pass

(intransitive) To decline or not attempt to answer a question.
I haven't any idea of the answer, so I'll have to pass.

Pass

(intransitive) In turn-based games, to decline to play in one's turn.

Pass

In euchre, to decline to make the trump.

Pass

To do or be better.

Pass

To go beyond bounds; to surpass; to be in excess.

Pass

(transitive) To transcend; to surpass; to excel; to exceed.

Pass

To take heed, to have an interest, to care.

Pass

An opening, road, or track, available for passing; especially, one through or over some dangerous or otherwise impracticable barrier such as a mountain range; a passageway; a defile; a ford.
Mountain pass

Pass

A channel connecting a river or body of water to the sea, for example at the mouth (delta) of a river.
The passes of the Mississippi

Pass

A single movement, especially of a hand, at, over, or along anything.

Pass

A single passage of a tool over something, or of something over a tool.

Pass

An attempt.
My first pass at a career of writing proved unsuccessful.

Pass

Success in an examination or similar test.
I gained three passes at A-level, in mathematics, French, and English literature.

Pass

(fencing) A thrust or push; an attempt to stab or strike an adversary.

Pass

(figuratively) A thrust; a sally of wit.

Pass

(sports) The act of moving the ball or puck from one player to another.

Pass

(rail transport) A passing of two trains in the same direction on a single track, when one is put into a siding to let the other overtake it.

Pass

Permission or license to pass, or to go and come.

Pass

A document granting permission to pass or to go and come; a passport; a ticket permitting free transit or admission
A railroad pass; a theater pass; a military pass

Pass

(baseball) An intentional walk.
Smith was given a pass after Jones' double.

Pass

(sports) The act of overtaking; an overtaking manoeuvre.

Pass

The state of things; condition; predicament; impasse.

Pass

(obsolete) Estimation; character.

Pass

(cookery) The area in a restaurant kitchen where the finished dishes are passed from the chefs to the waiting staff.

Pass

An act of declining to play one's turn in a game, often by saying the word "pass".
A pass would have seen her win the game, but instead she gave a wrong answer and lost a point, putting her in second place.

Pass

(computing) A run through a document as part of a translation, compilation or reformatting process.
Most Pascal compilers process source code in a single pass.

Pass

A password (especially one for a restricted-access website).
Anyone want to trade passes?

Pass

To go; to move; to proceed; to be moved or transferred from one point to another; to make a transit; - usually with a following adverb or adverbal phrase defining the kind or manner of motion; as, to pass on, by, out, in, etc.; to pass swiftly, directly, smoothly, etc.; to pass to the rear, under the yoke, over the bridge, across the field, beyond the border, etc.
On high behests his angels to and froPassed frequent.
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,And from their bodies passed.

Pass

To move or be transferred from one state or condition to another; to change possession, condition, or circumstances; to undergo transition; as, the business has passed into other hands.
Others, dissatisfied with what they have, . . . pass from just to unjust.

Pass

To move beyond the range of the senses or of knowledge; to pass away; hence, to disappear; to vanish; to depart; specifically, to depart from life; to die.
Disturb him not, let him pass paceably.
Beauty is a charm, but soon the charm will pass.
The passing of the sweetest soulThat ever looked with human eyes.

Pass

To move or to come into being or under notice; to come and go in consciousness; hence, to take place; to occur; to happen; to come; to occur progressively or in succession; to be present transitorily.
So death passed upon all men.
Our own consciousness of what passes within our own mind.

Pass

To go by or glide by, as time; to elapse; to be spent; as, their vacation passed pleasantly.
Now the time is far passed.

Pass

To go from one person to another; hence, to be given and taken freely; as, clipped coin will not pass; to obtain general acceptance; to be held or regarded; to circulate; to be current; - followed by for before a word denoting value or estimation.
False eloquence passeth only where true is not understood.
This will not pass for a fault in him.

Pass

To advance through all the steps or stages necessary to validity or effectiveness; to be carried through a body that has power to sanction or reject; to receive legislative sanction; to be enacted; as, the resolution passed; the bill passed both houses of Congress.

Pass

To go through any inspection or test successfully; to be approved or accepted; as, he attempted the examination, but did not expect to pass.

Pass

To be suffered to go on; to be tolerated; hence, to continue; to live along.

Pass

To go unheeded or neglected; to proceed without hindrance or opposition; as, we let this act pass.

Pass

To go beyond bounds; to surpass; to be in excess.

Pass

To take heed; to care.
As for these silken-coated slaves, I pass not.

Pass

To go through the intestines.

Pass

To be conveyed or transferred by will, deed, or other instrument of conveyance; as, an estate passes by a certain clause in a deed.

Pass

To make a lunge or pass; to thrust.

Pass

To decline to play in one's turn; in euchre, to decline to make the trump.
She would not play, yet must not pass.

Pass

To go by, beyond, over, through, or the like; to proceed from one side to the other of; as, to pass a house, a stream, a boundary, etc.
She loved me for the dangers I had passed.

Pass

To go by without noticing; to omit attention to; to take no note of; to disregard.
Please you that I may pass This doing.
I pass their warlike pomp, their proud array.

Pass

To cause to move or go; to send; to transfer from one person, place, or condition to another; to transmit; to deliver; to hand; to make over; as, the waiter passed bisquit and cheese; the torch was passed from hand to hand.
I had only time to pass my eye over the medals.
Waller passed over five thousand horse and foot by Newbridge.

Pass

To transcend; to surpass; to excel; to exceed.
And strive to pass . . . Their native music by her skillful art.
Whose tender powerPasses the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.

Pass

To cause to pass the lips; to utter; to pronounce; hence, to promise; to pledge; as, to pass sentence.
Father, thy word is passed.

Pass

To emit from the bowels; to evacuate.

Pass

To go successfully through, as an examination, trail, test, etc.; to obtain the formal sanction of, as a legislative body; as, he passed his examination; the bill passed the senate.

Pass

To cause to advance by stages of progress; to carry on with success through an ordeal, examination, or action; specifically, to give legal or official sanction to; to ratify; to enact; to approve as valid and just; as, he passed the bill through the committee; the senate passed the law.

Pass

To take a turn with (a line, gasket, etc.), as around a sail in furling, and make secure.

Pass

To make, as a thrust, punto, etc.

Pass

An opening, road, or track, available for passing; especially, one through or over some dangerous or otherwise impracticable barrier; a passageway; a defile; a ford; as, a mountain pass.
"Try not the pass!" the old man said.

Pass

A thrust or push; an attempt to stab or strike an adversary.

Pass

A movement of the hand over or along anything; the manipulation of a mesmerist.

Pass

A single passage of a bar, rail, sheet, etc., between the rolls.

Pass

State of things; condition; predicament.
Have his daughters brought him to this pass.
Matters have been brought to this pass.

Pass

Permission or license to pass, or to go and come; a psssport; a ticket permitting free transit or admission; as, a railroad or theater pass; a military pass.
A ship sailing under the flag and pass of an enemy.

Pass

Fig.: a thrust; a sally of wit.

Pass

Estimation; character.
Common speech gives him a worthy pass.

Pass

A part; a division.

Pass

In football, hockey, and other team sports, a transfer of the ball, puck, etc., to another player of one's own team, usually at some distance. In American football, the pass is through the air by an act of throwing the ball.

Pass

(baseball) an advance to first base by a batter who receives four balls;
He worked the pitcher for a base on balls

Pass

(military) a written leave of absence;
He had a pass for three days

Pass

(American football) a play that involves one player throwing the ball to a teammate;
The coach sent in a passing play on third and long

Pass

The location in a range of mountains of a geological formation that is lower than the surrounding peaks;
We got through the pass before it started to snow

Pass

Any authorization to pass or go somewhere;
The pass to visit had a strict time limit

Pass

A document indicating permission to do something without restrictions;
The media representatives had special passes

Pass

A flight or run by an aircraft over a target;
The plane turned to make a second pass

Pass

A bad or difficult situation or state of affairs

Pass

A difficult juncture;
A pretty pass
Matters came to a head yesterday

Pass

One complete cycle of operations (as by a computer);
It was not possible to complete the computation in a single pass

Pass

You advance to the next round in a tournament without playing an opponent;
He had a bye in the first round

Pass

A permit to enter or leave a military installation;
He had to show his pass in order to get out

Pass

A complementary (free) ticket;
The start got passes for his family

Pass

A usually brief attempt;
He took a crack at it
I gave it a whirl

Pass

(sports) the act of throwing the ball to another member of your team;
The pass was fumbled

Pass

Success in satisfying a test or requirement;
His future depended on his passing that test
He got a pass in introductory chemistry

Pass

Go across or through;
We passed the point where the police car had parked
A terrible thought went through his mind

Pass

Pass by;
A black limousine passed by when she looked out the window
He passed his professor in the hall
One line of soldiers surpassed the other

Pass

Make laws, bills, etc. or bring into effect by legislation;
They passed the amendment
We cannot legislate how people's spend their free time

Pass

Pass by;
Three years elapsed

Pass

Place into the hands or custody of;
Hand me the spoon, please
Turn the files over to me, please
He turned over the prisoner to his lawyers

Pass

Stretch out over a distance, space, time, or scope; run or extend between two points or beyond a certain point;
Service runs all the way to Cranbury
His knowledge doesn't go very far
My memory extends back to my fourth year of life
The facts extend beyond a consideration of her personal assets

Pass

Travel past;
The sports car passed all the trucks

Pass

Come to pass;
What is happening?
The meeting took place off without an incidence
Nothing occurred that seemed important

Pass

Go unchallenged; be approved;
The bill cleared the House

Pass

Pass (time) in a specific way;
How are you spending your summer vacation?

Pass

Guide or pass over something;
He ran his eyes over her body
She ran her fingers along the carved figurine
He drew her hair through his fingers

Pass

Transmit information ;
Please communicate this message to all employees

Pass

Disappear gradually;
The pain eventually passed off

Pass

Go successfully through a test or a selection process;
She passed the new Jersey Bar Exam and can practice law now

Pass

Go beyond;
She exceeded our expectations
She topped her performance of last year

Pass

Accept or judge as acceptable;
The teacher passed the student although he was weak

Pass

Allow to go without comment or censure;
The insult passed as if unnoticed

Pass

Transfer to another; of rights or property;
Our house passed under his official control

Pass

Pass into a specified state or condition;
He sank into Nirvana

Pass

Be identified, regarded, accepted, or mistaken for someone or something else; as by denying one's own ancestry or background;
He could pass as his twin brother
She passed as a White woman even though her grandfather was Black

Pass

Throw (a ball) to another player;
Smith passed

Pass

Be inherited by;
The estate fell to my sister
The land returned to the family
The estate devolved to an heir that everybody had assumed to be dead

Pass

Cause to pass;
She passed around the plates

Pass

Grant authorization or clearance for;
Clear the manuscript for publication
The rock star never authorized this slanderous biography

Pass

Pass from physical life and lose all all bodily attributes and functions necessary to sustain life;
She died from cancer
They children perished in the fire
The patient went peacefully

Pass

Eliminate from the body;
Pass a kidney stone

Pass

Of advancing the ball by throwing it;
A team with a good passing attack
A pass play

Common Curiosities

What makes a pass different from a col?

A pass is any navigable route through mountainous or hilly areas, not necessarily the lowest point between peaks.

How are cols formed?

Cols are primarily formed by the action of glaciers or erosion, creating a saddle-like depression.

What is a col?

A col is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks, often formed by glaciers or erosion.

Are cols more difficult to navigate than passes?

Cols can be more challenging due to their narrower paths and steeper sides compared to broader passes.

How do mountaineers use cols?

Mountaineers use cols as navigational markers and routes between mountain peaks.

Can a col be considered a type of pass?

Yes, a col is a specific type of mountain pass characterized by its position and formation.

Can river erosion form a pass?

Yes, river erosion is one of the processes that can form passes through mountains or hills.

Do all mountains have cols?

Not all mountains have cols; it depends on the landscape and geological history of the area.

Why are cols important in mapping?

Cols serve as important geographical markers and transition points on maps for hikers and mountaineers.

What is the significance of mountain passes in history?

Mountain passes have been crucial for trade, migration, military campaigns, and cultural exchanges.

What role do passes play in modern transportation?

Passes are integral to road and rail networks, facilitating travel and commerce through difficult terrain.

What challenges do cols pose for travelers?

The narrow paths and potentially steep approaches of cols can make them difficult for travelers to navigate.

Is a pass always between mountains?

While commonly between mountains or hills, passes can also refer to routes through other types of difficult terrain.

How do geological processes affect the formation of passes?

Geological processes like tectonic movements, erosion, and glacial activity shape the formation and characteristics of passes.

How have passes influenced human history?

Passes have influenced exploration, the spread of cultures, military strategies, and the development of trade routes.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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