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[tuhn-druh, too n-] /ˈtʌn drə, ˈtʊn-/
one of the vast, nearly level, treeless plains of the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Origin of tundra
Kola Lappish
1835-45; < Russian túndra < Lappish; compare Kola Lappish tūndar flat elevated area Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tundra
  • The prospect of taiga and tundra migrating towards the poles to areas that are now under ice terrifies them.
  • One is that huge amounts of methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, are stored in the permafrost of the tundra.
  • Frozen dog dirt stipples the tundra of the golf course.
  • It is home to bobcats and otter and a haven for birds, from great blue herons to warblers to tundra swans.
  • Fishing for salmon and camping out among the ice, tundra and lava might help cut costs.
  • It is a global species, living everywhere but the harshest deserts and the coldest tundra.
  • From coast to coast, from tundra to coral reef, state governments are in an awful fix.
  • Tells about the kinds of tundra and why it's so fragile.
  • For some reason, environments from the tropics to the tundra seem to have the same distribution of species.
  • If this were to happen, the study noted, the tundra would all but vanish.
British Dictionary definitions for tundra


  1. a vast treeless zone lying between the ice cap and the timberline of North America and Eurasia and having a permanently frozen subsoil
  2. (as modifier): tundra vegetation
Word Origin
C19: from Russian, from Lapp tundar hill; related to Finnish tunturi treeless hill
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 tundra

an Arctic steppe, 1841, from Russian tundra, from Lappish tundar "elevated wasteland."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tundra in Science
A cold, treeless, usually lowland area of far northern regions. The lower strata of soil of tundras are permanently frozen, but in summer the top layer of soil thaws and can support low-growing mosses, lichens, grasses, and small shrubs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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tundra in Culture

tundra definition

A land area near the North Pole where the soil is permanently frozen a few feet underground.

Note: There are no trees on the tundra: the vegetation is primarily lichens and mosses.
Note: Tundra is widespread in Lapland and in the far northern portions of Alaska, Canada, and the Soviet Union.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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