noun, often attributive
prai·​rie | \ ˈprer-ē How to pronounce prairie (audio) \

Definition of prairie

1 : land in or predominantly in grass
2 : a tract of grassland: such as
a : a large area of level or rolling land in the Mississippi River valley that in its natural uncultivated state usually has deep fertile soil, a cover of tall coarse grasses, and few trees
b : one of the dry treeless plateaus east of the Rocky Mountains that merge on their east side with the prairies proper and are characterized by shorter grasses and drier less fertile soil

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Examples of prairie in a Sentence

Millions of buffalo once roamed the prairies. The train tracks extend over miles of prairie.
Recent Examples on the Web From the small porch of the couple’s slice of land, a herd of elk could be seen resting in the distant prairie. NBC News, "'Your kind is not welcome': Homophobic confrontation sparks debate in Wyoming," 7 Dec. 2020 Chasing down pronghorn on the open prairie is about a lot more than just winning the race. Popular Science, "Can a hunter outrun an antelope? This ultra-marathoner is finding out.," 23 Nov. 2020 Higher in the sky now, the midmorning sun had replaced the moon over the North Dakota prairie. Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune, "Legendary ex-Vikings coach Bud Grant, 93, reflects on his lifelong avian affinity.," 20 Oct. 2020 The gun’s guts spilled out onto the Canadian prairie when the first flock hit the decoys. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "The Favorite Shotgun, Choke, and Ammo Combinations of 5 Diehard Duck Hunters (and One Outdoor Writer)," 15 Oct. 2020 If the undulating prairie grasses speak to you, consider pheasants or other upland birds. Ian Fohrman, Outside Online, "The Beginner's Guide to Hunting," 30 Oct. 2020 But with limited space, too many bison will degrade a prairie, stripping it bare, Quinn said. Star Tribune, "Are bison the key to bringing back Minnesota prairies?," 6 Sep. 2020 An insistent prairie wind batters the banner that has been strung across 3rd​ Street: ​Abilene Greyhounds! Ashley Stimpson, Longreads, "Shades of Grey," 31 Oct. 2020 Beneath the surface, miles of seagrass gently swayed in the surf, making the seabed look like a vast underwater prairie. Jonathan Lefcheck, The Conversation, "Restoring seagrasses can bring coastal bays back to life," 20 Oct. 2020

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

circa 1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prairie

French, from Old French praierie, from Vulgar Latin *prataria, from Latin pratum meadow

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Time Traveler for prairie

Time Traveler

The first known use of prairie was circa 1682

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Statistics for prairie

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prairie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for prairie


How to pronounce prairie (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prairie

: a large, mostly flat area of land in North America that has few trees and is covered in grasses


prai·​rie | \ ˈprer-ē How to pronounce prairie (audio) \

Kids Definition of prairie

: a large area of level or rolling grassland

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