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[tuh-res-tree-uh l] /təˈrɛs tri əl/
pertaining to, consisting of, or representing the earth as distinct from other planets.
of or relating to land as distinct from water.
  1. growing on land; not aquatic.
  2. growing in the ground; not epiphytic or aerial.
Zoology. living on or in the ground; not aquatic, arboreal, or aerial.
of or relating to the earth or this world; worldly; mundane.
an inhabitant of the earth, especially a human being.
Origin of terrestrial
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin terrestri(s) pertaining to earth (derivative of terra earth) + -al1
Related forms
terrestrially, adverb
nonterrestrial, adjective, noun
preterrestrial, adjective
superterrestrial, adjective
underterrestrial, adjective
unterrestrial, adjective
1. terrene. See earthly.
1. celestial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for terrestrial
  • It turns out that the blooms are pollinated by amphipods, which are tiny terrestrial relatives of both fleas and shrimp.
  • Its raw honesty, its dedication to marking life as it happens and remembering life as it was, makes it a terrestrial log.
  • Today ticks still rule over immense tracts of the terrestrial globe, and microbes rule absolutely.
  • In terrestrial diabetes patients, the capsule could contain pancreatic islet cells, functioning as an artificial pancreas.
  • The floating turbines can also be much larger than their terrestrial cousins.
  • For dogs, compelling terrestrial images are much closer under the nose.
  • Think of the evolution of fish fins into the limbs of terrestrial animals.
  • But this would only possible if terrestrial bugs can survive the intense vacuum and radiation in interplanetary space.
  • But the influence of space weather on the terrestrial weather is less well understood.
  • Even then, the energy required to heft humans and all they would need for life-support in an extra-terrestrial colony is immense.
British Dictionary definitions for terrestrial


of or relating to the earth
of or belonging to the land as opposed to the sea or air
(of animals and plants) living or growing on the land
earthly, worldly, or mundane
(of television signals) sent over the earth's surface from a transmitter on land, rather than by satellite
an inhabitant of the earth
Derived Forms
terrestrially, adverb
terrestrialness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin terrestris, from terra earth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for terrestrial

early 15c., from Latin terrestris "earthly," from terra "earth" (see terrain). Originally opposed to celestial; natural history sense of "living on land" is attested from 1630s. The noun meaning "a human being, a mortal" is recorded from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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terrestrial in Science
  1. Relating to Earth or its inhabitants.

  2. Relating to, living on, or growing on land.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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