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

With 64 types of terrestrial ecosystems shaped by an unusual climate and rich geological history, Alabama's native plants number nearly 3,000 species. Greg Garrison, AL.com, "Retired Catholic bishop battles cancer," 10 June 2017 Built for terrestrial and celestial viewing, these are the perfect bionculars to get your feet wet in astronomy. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Start Stargazing With This Telescope Sale," 30 Aug. 2018 Favorite bromeliads These are Juliana Raposo’s top 10 recommendations for bromeliads: Aechmea blanchetiana is both a terrestrial or epiphytic bromeliad. Karen Dardick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Bromeliads create garden drama," 17 May 2018 The list is divided into two categories, the top 25 aquatic invasive species and the top 25 terrestrial invasive species. Phil Drake, USA TODAY, "Feral cats listed among top invasive species in the West," 22 Mar. 2018 The accepted explanation for these aircraft was terrestrial and quaint: Some ingenious eccentric had built a device and was testing its capabilities. Greg Eghigian, Smithsonian, "How UFO Reports Change With the Technology of the Times," 2 Feb. 2018 It had been largely thought that Sue lived in a mostly terrestrial environment. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "A New Shark Species Was Found in the Mud of Sue the T. Rex," 21 Jan. 2019 The rover has been exploring the surface of Mars since 2004, far outlasting its original mission timeline of 90 Martian days (a Martian day is about 40 minutes longer than a terrestrial one). Meghan Bartels, Space.com, "NASA Starts 45-Day Clock to Contact Mars Rover Opportunity as Dust Storm Wanes," 12 Sep. 2018 There’s a concept to get your head around—not only the bounce but, as Armstrong notes, the thinness and fragility of the atmospheric layer that supports all terrestrial life. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘First Man’ Review: Sticking an Epic Landing," 11 Oct. 2018

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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Last Updated

25 Mar 2019

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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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