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 Today in Illinois, hardly any original prairie remains and remaining wetland habitats are often degraded. Morgan Greene,, "What might be ahead for birds, fish and trees facing Illinois’ changing climate," 20 Apr. 2021 And this was about a teacher on the prairie in North Dakota! Angela Haupt, Washington Post, "How the romance genre found its happily ever after," 15 Apr. 2021 O’Keeffe grew up on the Wisconsin prairie and was forever after enchanted by wide open spaces with limitless horizons. Tobias Grey, WSJ, "American Original Georgia O’Keeffe Goes to Spain," 9 Apr. 2021 Native prairie plants that can tolerate drought, including big bluestem, prairie milkweed, Illinois bundleflower and rough blazing star, will likely fare better than other species. Morgan Greene,, "What might be ahead for birds, fish and trees facing Illinois’ changing climate," 20 Apr. 2021 Patrick Marleau’s hometown is a speck on the map of Saskatchewan, one of Canada’s prairie provinces. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Patrick Marleau continues to chase the Cup into record book," 17 Apr. 2021 Native prairie grasses and wildflowers will fill more than 2 acres of Burnsville's Lake Park, the first step in a city parks plan that aims to convert turf grass into more environmentally friendly landscaping. Star Tribune, "Metro briefs: About to turn 95, Brooklyn Center woman enjoys honors," 12 Dec. 2020 But the wildest, wackiest victory in the streak was the come-from-behind 56-52 escape job against Davidson in 2018 when Wildcats running backs spent most of the day sprinting through the USD secondary like wild horses bounding through a prairie. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, "National win record on the line for USD football team Saturday," 2 Apr. 2021 Starting in the late 1800s, settlers of the Great Basin poisoned prairie dogs to leave more grass for their cattle. Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, "The fight to save America’s most endangered mammal," 5 Mar. 2021

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prairie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for prairie



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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