ter·​rain | \ tə-ˈrān also te- How to pronounce terrain (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The cost to find MIAs varies widely depending on terrain and location, the number of searchers needed to travel to a site to dig and sift through dirt or clay. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "More than 1,500 Wisconsinites are missing in war zones around the world. This bill would fund the search for those MIAs.," 10 Sep. 2019 The three hour drive from the airport in Puerto Ordaz to the city of El Callao, considered locally as the mining industry's capital, is incredibly scenic, with lush terrain as far as the eye can see. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, "A trail of 'bloody gold' leads to Venezuela's government," 20 Aug. 2019 Flames crept through rough, hilly terrain and appeared to have crossed into the United States at some point. Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Border Fire near Tecate now 30 percent contained," 16 Aug. 2019 The fire burning through steep, rugged terrain and thick forest. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Fire at Deer Creek Canyon Park prompts evacuations in Jefferson County," 15 Aug. 2019 With each successive, increasingly routine landing, astronauts made longer forays out onto the dusty lunar terrain and delved deeper into the scientific secrets hidden there. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 6: After Apollo, NASA still searching for an encore," 21 July 2019 Ride leaders will guide each group on skill level appropriate terrain and trails. courant.com, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 13 June 2019 Cattle sometimes die suddenly on the ranch’s 140,000 acres in Harney County — struck by disease or felled by a broken leg and unable to find a way out of the rugged, forested terrain. oregonlive.com, "Mysterious Oregon cattle killings, mutilations alarm ranchers," 22 Aug. 2019 Whether or not an arsonist is lurking, the threat of such a wildfire continues to be real due to the terrain, vegetation and weather conditions in the Angeles National Forest. Sara Cardine, La Cañada Valley Sun, "10 years on, the Station fire remains burned into the minds of locals and fire officials," 21 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about terrain

Statistics for terrain

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrain

The first known use of terrain was in 1766

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for terrain



English Language Learners Definition of terrain

: land of a particular kind


ter·​rain | \ tə-ˈrān How to pronounce terrain (audio) \

Kids Definition of terrain

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!