hin·​ter·​land ˈhin-tər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio)
: a region lying inland from a coast
: a region remote from urban areas
: a region lying beyond major metropolitan or cultural centers

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When you're dealing with geography, it helps to know your hinterland from your umland. In the late 19th century, geographer George Chisholm took note of 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. Nowadays, hinterland has a less technical use as well—it can be used for land that is simply out in the sticks. It can also be applied figuratively.

Examples of hinterland in a Sentence

the colonies hugged the coastline, while the hinterland remained largely unexplored
Recent Examples on the Web China’s film community has made its way to the high hinterlands of Xining for the annual festival that champions the cause of the country’s independent voices while giving emerging talent a platform on which to announce themselves the world. Mathew Scott, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 July 2023 The city’s location allows for easy day trips both to the hinterlands and to other coastal cities, and to the Côte d'Azur. Catherine Sabino, Forbes, 17 July 2023 Hollywood is a strange and secretive hinterland where celebrities—or perhaps their stylists—move quickly to push the same hyper-specific fashion items in quick succession. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 7 Aug. 2023 In the early two-thousands, bands from cultural hinterlands—Boca Raton, Las Vegas, the suburbs of New Jersey and Illinois, Long Island—took their predecessors’ interest in private emotion and the legacy of punk and added a new ingredient: pop ambition. Peter C. Baker, The New Yorker, 28 July 2023 The scaremongering and culture warring seemed to work in Turkey’s hinterlands, where Erdogan draws the bulk of his support. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 16 May 2023 Even on a dank December night, they were enchanted by this rustic hinterland and, a few weeks later, began renting a space a short drive away in the former home of the English curator and art collector Jim Ede in an expat enclave known locally as the Mountain. Aimee Farrell, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2023 The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society grasped the inspirational power of a good view, though, and the compact studios (plus an observation level) have generous windows that look over the vastness of lower Manhattan, the harbor, and the hinterlands of Brooklyn. Wes Tarca, Curbed, 12 Jan. 2023 The old ways are always being contrasted with present-day American banality, with the encroachment of chintzy commercial culture even into the hinterlands. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hinterland.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German, from hinter hinder + Land

First Known Use

1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of hinterland was in 1890


Dictionary Entries Near hinterland

Cite this Entry

“Hinterland.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hinterland. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


hin·​ter·​land ˈhint-ər-ˌland How to pronounce hinterland (audio)
: a region lying inland from a coast
: a region far from cities and towns

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