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) \

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

Billboard also factors in terrestrial radio play, YouTube views and more. Randall Roberts, latimes.com, "Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish enlist array of stars in all-out race for No. 1," 12 July 2019 Some communities are now taking it even further, flying security drones overhead or installing terrestrial sensors to see who’s walking where. Washington Post, "‘A golden prison’: In Brazil’s largest city, home security is a high-tech arms race," 9 July 2019 The proposals for fleets serving up broadband from space fit a terrestrial policy imperative: to expand high-speed internet service to people and places left poorly served by traditional communications providers. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "Elon Musk’s satellites dot the heavens, leaving stargazers upset," 8 July 2019 As a result, Pasachoff’s studies have a uniquely urgent terrestrial payoff. Eric Adams, WIRED, "The Blazing Science of This Year's Total Solar Eclipse," 1 July 2019 But according to Jackson and his team, the correlations in the noise data suggested that LIGO might have detected not gravitational waves but some terrestrial disturbance, perhaps an earthquake. Quanta Magazine, "New Studies Rescue Gravitational-Wave Signal From the Noise," 13 Dec. 2018 Among a million species now threatened with extinction, marine species are disappearing at twice the rate of terrestrial species, and British hedgehogs are in decline, possibly owing to a loss of hedges. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 24 June 2019 That rivals the size of even the largest terrestrial aquifers. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Scientists have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean," 22 June 2019 New Zealand gained undersea territory six times larger than its terrestrial area. Richard Kemeny, Science | AAAS, "As countries battle for control of North Pole, science is the ultimate winner," 20 June 2019

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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Statistics for terrestrial

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrestrial

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

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More Definitions for terrestrial

terrestrial

adjective

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

terrestrial

adjective
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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Comments on terrestrial

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