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 But its no-frills production — two ferns, two chairs, a black backdrop and mics affixed to the host and guests with masking tape — seems piped in from some unknown public access hinterland. Scott Tobias, Washington Post, "How ‘Between Two Ferns’ went from hilariously awkward web series to hilariously awkward Netflix movie," 20 Sep. 2019 Much has been said about the need to help these cities, to spread more of Boston’s economic success out to the hinterlands. BostonGlobe.com, "A Boston banker makes his mark — in the state’s Gateway Cities - The Boston Globe," 29 Nov. 2019 There are still, however, millions of miles of dirt roads in what the French call arriere-pays—the hinterland. M. R. O’connor, The New Yorker, "Dirt-Road America," 19 Nov. 2019 But these attacks are not fringe affairs confined to internet hinterlands; they are designed to propel anti-LGBTQ talking points into the mainstream. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "When the State Enforces “Straight Pride”," 4 Sep. 2019 For all James’s majestic sense of location—in this case, England’s raw east coast—the real hinterland of her novels is the church and its rituals. WSJ, "Five Best: Laura Thompson," 30 Mar. 2018 And against gains in the Midlands and the north of England, the Tories failed to make gains in and around London, suggesting the capital and its immediate hinterland are out of sympathy with the increasingly pro-Brexit Tories. The Economist, "Boris Johnson’s big win," 13 Dec. 2019 Disturbances broke out in multiple districts across the city and in the suburban hinterland. Time, "After Months of Unrest, Hong Kong Invokes Emergency Powers to Ban Face Masks," 4 Oct. 2019 The establishment of the two separatist republics took much of the port’s hinterland, with its huge industries, away. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Isolated by Ukraine’s war, Mariupol looks for a peaceful future," 13 Aug. 2019

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

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hinterland.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hinterland. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for hinterland


How to pronounce hinterland (audio)

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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