ter·​res·​tri·​al | \ tə-ˈre-st(r)ē-əl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio) ; -ˈres-chəl, -ˈresh- How to pronounce terrestrial (audio) \

Definition of terrestrial

1a : of or relating to the earth or its inhabitants terrestrial magnetism
b : mundane in scope or character : prosaic
2a : 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

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Other Words from terrestrial

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 The strongest of them are called essential oils, after the medieval alchemist’s notion of quinta essentia, a fifth essence of heavenly origin — a life force — to be extracted from terrestrial materials. New York Times, "How Botanical Oils Won Over the West," 7 May 2021 O’Brien has been on terrestrial TV almost every night since 1993, and his upcoming move to HBO Max is part of a greater sea change. Bethy Squires, Vulture, "The CBS Head of Late Night’s Really Tall Chair Won Late Night This Week," 7 May 2021 Long-lived, terrestrial and found in more than a dozen states, the ornate is one of two species of box turtles in Illinois. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, "Box turtle survey — with a canine assist — helps researchers understand where risks to human health might emerge," 7 May 2021 The chart does not include passive listening such as terrestrial radio or digital radio. Rs Charts, Rolling Stone, "Taylor Swift Notches Another Week at Number One on Artists 500 Chart," 27 Apr. 2021 Billions of years ago when the solar system formed, scientists believe that Mars and Earth were similar: watery, terrestrial planets with atmospheres. New York Times, "How to Imagine an Unfamiliar Place," 20 Apr. 2021 The chart does not include passive listening such as terrestrial radio or digital radio. Rs Charts, Rolling Stone, "Drake Bounces Back to Number One on Artists 500 Chart," 13 Apr. 2021 With more time spent at home, more media was inevitably consumed across linear TV, terrestrial radio and emerging subscription services. Michelle Abdow, Forbes, "Media Consumption Is Over The Top: How Much And Where To Spend Is Key To Maximizing ROI," 8 Apr. 2021 Less commuting has meant less solo time with podcasts, playlists and terrestrial radio. Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times, "Lose the earbuds. Ditch the phone. How to get the most out of your music," 14 Jan. 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for terrestrial

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

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Time Traveler for terrestrial

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for terrestrial

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terrestrial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrestrial. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for terrestrial



English Language Learners Definition of terrestrial

: relating to or occurring on the earth
technical : living or growing on land instead of in water or air
: sending a broadcast signal from the Earth


ter·​res·​tri·​al | \ tə-ˈre-strē-əl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio) \

Kids Definition of terrestrial

1 : relating to the earth or its people Does anything like terrestrial life exist on other planets?
2 : living or growing on land terrestrial birds

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