ter·​ri·​er ˈter-ē-ər How to pronounce terrier (audio)
: any of various usually small energetic dogs originally used by hunters to dig for small game and engage the quarry underground or drive it out

Illustration of terrier

Illustration of terrier

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Occasionally cranky, the terrier was said to perk up with warm baths and good food. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 5 Oct. 2022 The distraction allowed Lee to get up and flee down the trail, followed by the terrier. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 24 Aug. 2022 Bibi is a 9-pound Chihuahua blend and Gordo is a 16-pound terrier-poodle blend. The Republic, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2022 Before the firefighters arrived, Bear, a Cairn terrier, barked to wake up his family, Hahn told the outlet. Charmaine Patterson, Peoplemag, 15 Aug. 2022 The different types of groups that are judged against each other include hounds, toy, non-sporting, herding, sporting, terrier, and working. Alex Scimecca, Fortune, 23 June 2022 At 7:30, judging will begin in the finals for three undecided groups — sporting, working and terrier — with those champions competing against four group winners from Tuesday for Best in Show. New York Times, 21 June 2022 This is true for all of them- from the nuisance alligators down even to our terrier. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 31 Aug. 2022 Her terrier followed her, and the labradoodle later returned home. Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY, 24 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'terrier.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English terryer, terrer, from Anglo-French (chen) terrer, literally, earth dog, from terre earth, from Latin terra

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of terrier was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near terrier

Cite this Entry

“Terrier.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrier. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ter·​ri·​er ˈter-ē-ər How to pronounce terrier (audio)
: any of various usually small energetic dogs originally used by hunters to drive game animals from their holes

More from Merriam-Webster on terrier

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.