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[tuh-reyn] /təˈreɪn/
a tract of land, especially as considered with reference to its natural features, military advantages, etc.
Geology, terrane.
Origin of terrain
1720-30; < FrenchVulgar Latin *terrānum, noun use of neuter of *terrānus of land. See terra, -an Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for terrain
  • The birds, scratching new terrain, grabbing low-hanging fruit from tomato plants.
  • The terrain is too lava-choked to handle singletrack, but there are a number of dirt roads to ride.
  • The catfish has successfully adapted to life in swampy patches of forest terrain, the researchers say.
  • Big, thick footpads help them navigate the rough rocky terrain and shifting desert sands.
  • Many will do whatever it takes, often risking their lives by crossing treacherous terrain.
  • They are adapted to the extremes of weather and terrain of this region, making them valuable forms of transportation.
  • When he did this, he found that many seemingly random terrain features matched up.
  • Then, create a poster based on the animals and terrain that you have seen.
  • Rugged mountains dominate the terrain and make the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive.
  • They cannot, for example, cross rocky terrain or ravines.
British Dictionary definitions for terrain


/təˈreɪn; ˈtɛreɪn/
ground or a piece of ground, esp with reference to its physical character or military potential: radio reception can be difficult in mountainous terrain, a rocky terrain
a variant spelling of terrane
Word Origin
C18: from French, ultimately from Latin terrēnum ground, from terra earth


a series of rock formations, esp one having a prevalent type of rock
an allochthonous, fault-bounded section of the earth's crust
Word Origin
C19: see terrain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for terrain

1727, "ground for training horses," from French terrain "piece of earth, ground, land," from Old French (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *terranum, from Latin terrenum "land, ground," from neuter of terrenus "of earth, earthly," from terra "earth, land," literally "dry land" (as opposed to "sea"); from PIE root *ters- "to dry" (cf. Sanskrit tarsayati "dries up," Avestan tarshu- "dry, solid," Greek teresesthai "to become or be dry," Latin torrere "dry up, parch," Gothic þaursus "dry, barren," Old High German thurri, German dürr, Old English þyrre "dry;" Old English þurstig "thirsty"). Meaning "tract of country, considered with regard to its natural features" first attested 1766.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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