terrestrial

adjective

ter·​res·​tri·​al tə-ˈre-st(r)ē-əl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio)
-ˈres-chəl,
-ˈresh- How to pronounce terrestrial (audio)
1
a
: of or relating to the earth or its inhabitants
terrestrial magnetism
b
: mundane in scope or character : prosaic
2
a
: of or relating to land as distinct from air or water
terrestrial transportation
b(1)
: living on or in or growing from land
terrestrial plants
terrestrial birds
(2)
: of or relating to terrestrial organisms
terrestrial habits
3
: belonging to the class of planets that are like the earth (as in density and silicate composition)
the terrestrial planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars
terrestrial noun
terrestrially adverb

Did you know?

Terrestrial might be a pretty down-to-earth word, but some of its relatives are out of this world. "Terrestrial" first appeared in English in the 15th century and derives from the Latin root terra, which means "earth." In the mid-1800s "extra-" was added to "terrestrial," giving us "extraterrestrial," an adjective that can be used to describe things (including science fiction creatures) that come from space. "Terrestrial" shares the "-al" suffix with "celestial," which was first used in the 14th century. Not surprisingly, "celestial" ("of or relating to the sky or visible heavens") traces back to the Latin for sky, "caelum."

Examples of terrestrial in a Sentence

The toad has terrestrial habits, spending most of its time on shore. scientists haven't even found all the terrestrial life on our planet
Recent Examples on the Web Image Along with being an instrumentalist and a producer, Niño, 47, has been a beatmaker, a D.J. on both terrestrial and online radio, a record collector and a venue programmer. Eric Ducker, New York Times, 13 May 2024 The other tricky thing about falling, especially for terrestrial animals like us, is that our normal methods for controlling our orientation disappear. IEEE Spectrum, 12 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for terrestrial 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'terrestrial.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin terrestris, from terra earth — more at terrace entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of terrestrial was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near terrestrial

Cite this Entry

“Terrestrial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrestrial. Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

terrestrial

adjective
ter·​res·​tri·​al tə-ˈres-trē-əl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio) -ˈres-chəl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio)
-ˈresh-chəl
1
: of or relating to the earth or its living things
2
a
: of or relating to land as distinct from air or water
terrestrial transportation
b
: living on or in or growing from land
terrestrial plants
terrestrial birds

More from Merriam-Webster on terrestrial

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