Definition of terrestrial
1a : of or relating to the earth or its inhabitants terrestrial magnetismb : mundane in scope or character : prosaic
2a : of or relating to land as distinct from air or water terrestrial transportationb (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 was our Word of the Day on 05/17/2015. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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 of terrestrial from the Web
The first 10 to 15 years of my career as a photographer were very terrestrial.
In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast.
Bright or noisy lures also make sense around shoreline brush, rockpiles and docks after a big rain, when fish may have gone to the banks to follow rising water and eat any terrestrial critters washed in by the deluge.
Even though the big story of how whales went from terrestrial to aquatic beasts is known in broad strokes at this point, new finds are reminding us that there’s still far more to the cetacean story.
Of the planets, first came the gas giants, followed by such rock-and-metal terrestrial worlds as Earth.
A series of elevated boardwalks links floating and terrestrial portions of the 12-room lodge, including an oceanside hot tub.
But other than the portside stands that sell inexpensive food for sailors and dock workers, Genoa’s cuisine is adamantly terrestrial.
As an emigrant from coastal Italy to Majorca, Spain, Dalorto cared more about port towns and marine highways than their terrestrial equivalents.
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.
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."
TERRESTRIAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of terrestrial for English Language Learners
: relating to or occurring on the earth
: living or growing on land instead of in water or air
: sending a broadcast signal from the Earth
TERRESTRIAL Defined for Kids
Definition of terrestrial for Students
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
Word Root of terrestrial
The Latin word terra, meaning “earth,” “land,” or “ground,” gives us the root terr. Words from the Latin terra have something to do with the earth or land. A territory is an area of land ruled by a particular government. A terrace is a piece of land with a flat top. Anything terrestrial lives on land and not in water.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up terrestrial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).