hin·​ter·​land | \ˈhin-tər-ˌland, -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

Smiley’s character, on the other hand, gave the MI6 officer himself a certain mystique, suggesting a rich hinterland. Henry Hemming, WSJ, "Rendezvous With le Carré," 1 Sep. 2017 The meeting with the world’s most wanted man took place at a secret location in the barren hinterland of eastern Syria, at the heart of Islamic State’s shrinking realm. Isabel Coles And, WSJ, "Prisoner Recounts Secret Meeting With ISIS Leader Baghdadi," 17 Aug. 2018 Yemeni fighters combating the group in the hinterlands of Shabwa and Abyan provinces say al-Qaeda has weathered this pounding and remains a fierce opponent. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "U.S. airstrikes are pounding the group in Yemen, yet the militants fight on fiercely," 6 July 2018 Islamic State militants are hunkered down a few miles away in their last refuge: the desert hinterlands straddling the Iraq-Syria border. Nabih Bulos, latimes.com, "It's an awkward dance as the U.S., Russia and Iran all zero in on Islamic State," 22 June 2018 Until Sweden does so, grazing in the Nordic hinterland is governed by the Lapp Codicil from 1751, which gives rights for herders from Sweden, but also Norway, to largely ignore the border. Author: Sveinung Sleire, Rafaela Lindeberg, Anchorage Daily News, "Reindeer ignoring borders have Norway locking antlers with Sweden," 30 June 2018 The latest death toll, up from the previous figure of 86, makes this one of the bloodiest incidents this year in escalating communal clashes across Nigeria's hinterland states. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 27, 2018," 27 June 2018 Only in 2006 did a candidate from the hinterlands win by opposing the Montreal-Toronto axis. The Economist, "Anti-elitist politicians in Canada are courting immigrants," 19 Apr. 2018 Tundj Hata is the courier who brings the head across the hinterlands of the empire and secretly lines his pockets by showing it off to villagers en route: The head was establishing its rapport with the crowd. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Ismail Kadare: The Conscience of His People," 15 June 2018

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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Statistics for hinterland

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for hinterland

The first known use of hinterland was in 1890

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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 \

Kids Definition of hinterland

: a region far from cities

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