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

They can be raised anywhere: from the Arctic to the equator, on prairies, in deserts and on mountains. Washington Post, "How beef demand is accelerating the Amazon’s deforestation and climate peril," 26 Aug. 2019 He's taken advantage of a government plan that pays him to devote some of his land to wild prairie, a biodiversity boost that costs a bit in the short term but increases his yield in seasons to come. Bill Weir, CNN, "Scientists say farmers could grow their way out of the climate crisis," 8 Aug. 2019 The Wind' Isolated on the American prairie, Lizzy Macklin (Caitlin Gerard) is a 19th-century frontierswoman who feels a sinister force all around her, though her husband (Ashley Zukerman) doesn't believe her. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Ranked: The 15 best horror movies of 2019, from 'Us' to 'Pet Sematary'," 1 Aug. 2019 While some forestland in the area was burned by the native Kalapuya people and converted to prairie, the fir and others around it were in a wetter part of forest and free to grow., "‘Majestic’ Douglas fir stood for 420 years. Then Oregon State University foresters cut it down," 26 July 2019 Starting Saturday, screened metal boxes containing butterfly chrysalises will be moved to the prairie for hatching. Molly Korzenowski, Twin Cities, "Minnesota Zoo to release 400 endangered Dakota skipper butterflies," 6 July 2019 Coming through the corn rows on his 750 acres this spring, Fredericks is thrilled to see the full result: Orange and black wings fluttering among seeded prairie flowers. Ellen Knickmeyer,, "The plight of the monarchs: Trump order weakens protections for butterflies in Maryland, elsewhere," 14 Aug. 2019 The week begins with a river cleanup and prairie hike, and culminates with a Native American celebration July 16-21. Elaine Rewolinski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Opera in the Park, RiverFest, Rock Fest, and more to do around Wisconsin this week," 14 July 2019 Clustered among pine forests and sunny prairies along scenic backwoods roads 20 miles south of town, Perkins Tank and JD Dam Lake comprise a water-centric tour of the Kaibab National Forest’s southern sector. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "Fun summer hikes in Arizona: These hidden little lakes attract wildlife, hikers and anglers," 5 July 2019

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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Statistics for prairie

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prairie

The first known use of prairie was circa 1682

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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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Comments on prairie

What made you want to look up prairie? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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