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

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 It’s a tell-all that settles old accounts and names names, a cantankerous lament over Lurie’s many existential and terrestrial irritations. Cintra Wilson, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 That is until the species, deemed by the National Park Service as the largest terrestrial animal in North America, disappeared in the early 1900s. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 30 July 2022 Year after year the layers of sand hardened into strata of sandstone, pushed down ever deeper into the terrestrial pressure cooker. Wired, 29 July 2022 Smaller species live only about a quarter of a century, and terrestrial box turtles typically live to 40 or 50 years but can live to be 100. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 23 July 2022 The Banks team, mostly based at the University of California, Berkeley, looked at 214 terrestrial animal species with the three main kinds of pupils. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 20 Apr. 2022 But the research does demonstrate the possibilities for growing terrestrial plants—even one day, edible plants like spinach—on the moon or beyond. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 7 June 2022 These marine plants form the base of the marine ecosystem, just as terrestrial plants do on land. Erik Kobayashi-solomon, Forbes, 18 Mar. 2022 Woody growth allows these plants to keep growing, year after year, making woody plants the largest and tallest terrestrial plants. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, 19 Mar. 2021 See More

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.

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

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terrestrial deposit

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Terrestrial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrestrial. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for terrestrial


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

More from Merriam-Webster on terrestrial

Nglish: Translation of terrestrial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrestrial for Arabic Speakers


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