ex·​tra·​ter·​res·​tri·​al | \ ˌek-strə-tə-ˈre-strē-əl How to pronounce extraterrestrial (audio) , -ˈres-chəl, -ˈresh-chəl \

Definition of extraterrestrial

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: originating, existing, or occurring outside the earth or its atmosphere extraterrestrial life



Definition of extraterrestrial (Entry 2 of 2)

: a being from another world : an extraterrestrial being

Examples of extraterrestrial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There is, to my knowledge, no evidence that’s been made available to the public that would definitively prove or even persuasively suggest the existence of any type of extraterrestrial intelligence here on our planet. Jazz Shaw, National Review, 22 May 2021 Can alien smog lead us to extraterrestrial civilizations? Whitson Gordon, Wired, 8 Apr. 2021 The expanding quest for clues to life beyond Earth—and for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence—is edging into the mainstream of astronomy and planetary exploration. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, 29 Mar. 2021 The problem has been that, as data has improved, and scrutiny has intensified, the presence of life has not revealed itself – from planetary exploration or from the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American, 21 Feb. 2021 Compiling a playlist of organic sound signatures that could be sent to space in an effort to connect with extraterrestrial life. Andrea Morris, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2021 Can alien smog lead us to extraterrestrial civilizations? Whitson Gordon, Wired, 8 Apr. 2021 An unusual sight — a ribbon of glowing blue light — in the Dearborn sky that was posted Sunday on Facebook set off a round of jokes and speculation, including several references to extraterrestrial life. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 30 Mar. 2021 Then there’s the widespread obsession with extraterrestrial life. Rigoberto González, Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Sincere believers in the extraterrestrial are framed as kooky punchlines across news, TV and film. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2021 Doja Cat paid homage to sci-fi classics including Signs, Poltergeist and the X-Files during her extraterrestrial (and extra delightful) performance at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards. Katie Bain, Billboard, 27 May 2021 As to the object’s origin, speculation ranged from the extraterrestrial to someone’s attempt at art. Sunset Magazine, 25 Nov. 2020 The most striking images were from San Francisco proper, which was bathed in a zestless citrus haze, as if some evil extraterrestrial had zapped Karl the Fog with a deadly malady. Steven Levy, Wired, 11 Sep. 2020 Below his sweet words to his wife, Taylor, there’s a pair of the cartoonist’s trademark blue extraterrestrials. Byangela Haupt, Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2020 Another thing that enterprising extraterrestrials might do is simply monitor the total amount of light coming from Earth — even seen in a single pixel. NBC News, 18 Sep. 2019 Sharon Wehrly, the sheriff in adjacent Nye County, home to the Area 51 Alien Center, said messages discouraging Earthlings from trying to find extraterrestrials in Amargosa Valley appeared to work. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, 20 Sep. 2019 In a section about smoking a spliff on the balcony, a friend’s pointed question about Pico’s ex turns into a far-out conversation about extraterrestrials, as though the poem were getting stoned as well. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, 6 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extraterrestrial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of extraterrestrial


1848, in the meaning defined above


1950, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of extraterrestrial was in 1848

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Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extraterrestrial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extraterrestrial. Accessed 23 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for extraterrestrial



English Language Learners Definition of extraterrestrial

: coming from or existing outside the planet Earth

More from Merriam-Webster on extraterrestrial

Nglish: Translation of extraterrestrial for Spanish Speakers


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