Word Origin & History
tract of level or undulating grassland in N.Amer., 1773, from Fr. prairie, from O.Fr. praerie (12c.), from V.L. *prataria, from L. pratum "meadow," originally "a hollow." The word existed in M.E. as prayere, but was lost and reborrowed to describe the American plains. Prairie dog is attested from 1774;
prairie schooner "immigrant's wagon" is from 1841.