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)
1
a
: of or relating to the earth or its inhabitants
terrestrial magnetism
b
: mundane in scope or character : prosaic
2
a
: 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
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."

Example Sentences

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 Tens of millions of years ago, cetaceans’ ancestors rejected terrestrial life in favor of the open ocean. Daniel Leonard, Scientific American, 22 Sep. 2022 While terrestrial insects have seen their populations fall, the analysis found that freshwater insects have seen their abundances rise at about one percent-per-year, or 11 percent in a decade. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Apr. 2020 Meanwhile, terrestrial radio presents a lot of opportunities in terms of flexibility and broader reach. Paul Kelly, Forbes, 10 Aug. 2022 While both subsea and terrestrial cables are susceptible to damage or downtime, LaChapelle said, having an alternate route means Alaska is no longer keeping all of its telecom eggs in one undersea basket. Anchorage Daily News, 13 May 2021 Our special package on the oceans is teeming with images of eerie, delicate, elaborate, glowing and occasionally kind of frightening creatures that have rarely been seen by terrestrial species. Laura Helmuth, Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2022 It’s much harder to know who is listening in and when with terrestrial radio. Paul Kelly, Forbes, 10 Aug. 2022 Maren, Mickey and Kacey have all found ways outside of terrestrial radio to gain audiences and find their own paths. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 31 May 2022 For example, the NWF states that 96% of U.S. terrestrial birds rely on insects supported by keystone plants. Jennifer Rude Klett, Journal Sentinel, 8 Sep. 2022 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.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin terrestris, from terra earth — more at terrace entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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

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Dictionary Entries Near terrestrial

Cite this Entry

“Terrestrial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrestrial. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

terrestrial

adjective

ter·​res·​tri·​al tə-ˈres-trē-əl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio) -ˈres-chəl How to pronounce terrestrial (audio)
-ˈresh-chəl
1
: of or relating to the earth or its living things
2
a
: of or relating to land as distinct from air or water
terrestrial transportation
b
: living on or in or growing from land
terrestrial plants
terrestrial birds

More from Merriam-Webster on terrestrial

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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