ter·​rain | \tə-ˈrān also te- \

Definition of terrain 

1a(1) : a geographic area

(2) : a piece of land : ground

b : the physical features of a tract of land

3a : a field of knowledge or interest

b : environment, milieu

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Examples of terrain in a Sentence

We had to drive over some rough terrain. We hiked through a variety of terrains.

Recent Examples on the Web

Citing the rugged terrain, officials said six hours were required to rig lines to recover the body. Martin Weil, Washington Post, "Body found in rugged area on Appalachian Trail in Maryland," 10 July 2018 The upper portion of the fire, north of Guinda, was burning in steep, inaccessible terrain, making firefighting efforts more challenging, Cal Fire said. Cassie Dickman, sacbee, "Firefighters gain ground, some evacuations lifted: Northern California fires update," 9 July 2018 However, the Nottage project will be expected to voyage far from the traditional terrain of jukebox shows, and the land of Jackson impersonators, and delve deeper into Jackson’s life. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "New Michael Jackson musical is headed to Broadway, written by Lynn Nottage," 19 June 2018 The semirural character of the town, accentuated by the surrounding rugged terrain, made Chatsworth a popular filming location for westerns. Scott Garner, latimes.com, "Neighborhood Spotlight: Chatsworth keeps one foot in the Old West," 25 May 2018 For decades doctors have been trying to decode the dark, slimy terrains of the GI tract—probing both ends with cameras and scopes and liters of oral contrast liquid. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "This Digital Pill Prototype Uses Bacteria to Sense Stomach Bleeding," 24 May 2018 Winds pushed the flames west into Lake and Napa counties, and authorities significantly increased the area under mandatory evacuations to include a sparsely populated area of rugged terrain from Lake Berryessa to California 89, about 25 miles away. Javier Panzar, latimes.com, "Northern California fire sparked by faulty electric fence," 12 July 2018 Opportunity’s mission was originally slated to last only 90 days, but has been able to continue long-term exploration of the Martian terrain. Richard Tribou, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Giant mountain on Mars rises above massive dust storm," 5 July 2018 In microbiology, the idea of terrain is today quietly resurgent. Jason Pontin, WIRED, "The 19th-Century Crank Who Tried to Tell Us About the Microbiome," 15 June 2018

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

1766, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for terrain

French, land, ground, from Old French terrein, from Vulgar Latin *terranum, alteration of Latin terrenum, from neuter of terrenus of earth — more at terrene

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Statistics for terrain

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrain

The first known use of terrain was in 1766

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More Definitions for terrain



English Language Learners Definition of terrain

: land of a particular kind


ter·​rain | \tə-ˈrān \

Kids Definition of terrain

: the features of the surface of a piece of land hilly terrain swampy terrain

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Comments on terrain

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


an inexhaustible supply or amount

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