hin·​ter·​land | \ ˈhin-tər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio) , -lənd \

Definition of hinterland

1 : a region lying inland from a coast
2a : a region remote from urban areas
b : a region lying beyond major metropolitan or cultural centers

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Did You Know?

When you're dealing with geography, it helps to know your hinterland from your umland. In 1888, geographer George Chisholm borrowed the German word Hinterland (literally, "land in back of") and applied it specifically to the region just inland from a port or coastal settlement. (Chisholm spelled the word hinderland, but English speakers eventually settled on "hinterland.") Early in the 20th century, another geographer adopted the German Umland ("land around") to refer to the territory around an inland town. What "hinterland" and "umland" have in common is a reference to a region economically tied to a nearby city. But nowadays "hinterland" has a less technical use as well; it's used for land that's simply out in the sticks.

Examples of hinterland in a Sentence

the colonies hugged the coastline, while the hinterland remained largely unexplored
Recent Examples on the Web The appearance of a monolith in a hinterland is a satisfying reminder that the world remains very large. New York Times, "A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens," 28 Dec. 2020 When the Defender pointed out the inconsistency of using white umpires for games between Black teams, Foster scoured the hinterland for Black umpires. Ron Grossman, chicagotribune.com, "Flashback: A ‘Giant’ of the Negro Leagues: Founder Rube Foster sparked a revolution for elite Black ballplayers," 22 Jan. 2021 The government’s demands in return for helping TfL contrast with the 18-month bailout granted to private commuter-rail services that stretch out into London’s hinterland, where the population tends to vote Conservative. Emily Ashton, Bloomberg.com, "U.K. Government Threatens to Take Over London Subway Manager," 20 Oct. 2020 Even in the face of relentless American drone strikes, the Shabab have been resilient, transforming into a leaner organization that holds sway over large stretches of the Somali hinterland. Eric Schmitt, New York Times, "Somalia Worries That a U.S. Withdrawal Will Be Disastrous," 18 Nov. 2020 Trump’s following is concentrated in small towns in the rural hinterland. Ron Grossman, Star Tribune, "Pondering how to parlay a Biden victory into a more united country," 29 Oct. 2020 Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group said sales of farm equipment are much better than expected as the country’s vast hinterland bounces back from lockdown, despite the coronavirus running rampant. Anurag Kotoky, Bloomberg.com, "India’s Farmers Give Mahindra (and Maybe Modi) a Sliver of Hope," 22 Sep. 2020 The pathogen has only just penetrated the vast rural hinterland where the bulk of its 1.3 billion population lives, after racing through its dense mega-cities. Ari Altstedter, Bloomberg.com, "India Is Becoming the World’s New Virus Epicenter," 31 Aug. 2020 But the virus has also moved into India’s vast hinterland, where medical facilities are even less equipped to cope with serious cases. Washington Post, "India passes coronavirus milestone: The largest number of daily cases in the world," 28 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hinterland.' 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 hinterland

1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hinterland

German, from hinter hinder + Land

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Time Traveler for hinterland

Time Traveler

The first known use of hinterland was in 1890

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hinterland.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hinterland. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for hinterland



English Language Learners Definition of hinterland

: an area that is not close to any cities or towns : a remote region


hin·​ter·​land | \ ˈhin-tər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio) \

Kids Definition of hinterland

: a region far from cities

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