There are 2 main definitions of ground in English:

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ground 1

Pronunciation: /ɡraʊnd/


1 [in singular] The solid surface of the earth: he lay on the ground
More example sentences
  • In spring you kill the vetch by simply cutting it close to the ground, and then lay it in place on the beds.
  • He froze and lay close to the ground, his entire body choked up with uncontrollable fear.
  • Light rails are too buslike to impress most commuters, too squished and close to the ground.
1.1 [mass noun] A limited extent of the earth’s surface; land: an adjoining area of ground had been purchased
More example sentences
  • While in the air, he watched as a tractor pulling a plow cut a dark line of earth across an expanse of ground.
  • In 1757, he leased a back house and some ground adjoining his premises on Cork Hill.
  • Grass surpluses have developed on grazing ground on many farms at present following recent good growth.
1.2 [mass noun] Land of a specified kind: my feet squelched over marshy ground
More example sentences
  • Just before a cottage, go right at a green marker-post and follow a path across marshy ground to a gate in the fence to your right.
  • Cross marshy ground to a cairn, and after 300 yards you will reach the trig point on top of Auchineden Hill.
  • Houses included piled structures with stone hearths set in marshy ground.
earth, soil, topsoil, dirt, clay, loam, turf, clod, mould, sod, dust;
land, terrain
1.3British The floor of a room: the device fell to the ground, where it exploded, blowing a hole in the floor
More example sentences
  • The few times that one did come fully into their powers, every being in the room fell to the ground.
  • Water was leaking into the room now, pouring into small depressions in the ground where it had fallen before.
  • She half rose, and then suddenly was thrown to the ground again as the floor rocked beneath her.
2 (also grounds) An area of land or sea used for a specified purpose: shore dumping can pollute fishing grounds
More example sentences
  • There was a sense of urgency today as cleanup workers tried to head off oil slicks before they reached Spanish beaches and the fishing grounds.
  • The move was designed to relieve people of the squalid living conditions, as well as to grant better access to hunting and fishing grounds.
  • The remaining birds, whether on the breeding or wintering grounds, mostly inhabit public or undeveloped beaches.
2.1 (grounds) An area of enclosed land surrounding a large house or other building: the house stands in seven acres of grounds the university grounds
More example sentences
  • The building, the grounds and surrounding area are untidy.
  • In contrast to the grounds surrounding the house, this area had been neatly trimmed and landscaped.
  • During their weeding and cleaning the pupils also learned much about the horticulture of the grounds surrounding the church buildings.
estate, gardens, lawns, park, parkland, land, acres, property, surroundings, domain, holding, territory
archaic demesne
2.2An area of land, often with associated buildings, used for a particular sport: a football ground Liverpool’s new ground is nearing completion
More example sentences
  • A war of words has broken out over Yorkshire's proposed purchase of the cricket ground from Headingley boss Paul Caddick.
  • You have a club worth millions; you fill out your ground every week.
  • The only option would be to burn the paddock to the ground.
3 [mass noun] An area of knowledge or subject of discussion or thought: third-year courses cover less ground and go into more depth [count noun]: he shifted the argument on to theoretical grounds of his own choosing
More example sentences
  • This is a huge subject that covers much ground and will see a good many proposals.
  • Any book on European integration which aims to be at all comparative is bound to cover a lot of ground, both theoretical and practical.
  • Certainly she believes the process is moving onto dangerous ground.
4 (grounds) Factors forming a basis for action or the justification for a belief: there are some grounds for optimism they called for a retrial on the grounds of the new evidence
More example sentences
  • That may give them grounds for a constitutional challenge on the grounds of equality and of guarantees not to endow any religion.
  • But in a case such as the present where the bad faith of the plaintiff is not alleged, I can see no basis for the implication of a representation of reasonable grounds for belief.
  • However, interest-based financing systems can neither be justified on the grounds of efficiency nor on the basis of economic justice.
5chiefly Art A prepared surface to which paint is applied.
Example sentences
  • To create his paintings, he stencils wide bands and squares of colorful enamel paint over bright acrylic grounds.
  • Lashing skeins of clear acrylic medium course through wiped grounds, in a family of pinks ranging from alizarin to rust, of oceanic vastness.
  • These new paintings are mostly organized around nearly straight brushstrokes executed on grounds made of broader, looser applications of paint.
5.1A substance used to prepare a surface for painting.
Example sentences
  • Alkyd and acrylic primers, pigmented with titanium white, have largely replaced white lead in oil as grounds for oil painting.
  • His new work recalls his beginnings, but with broader lines, more intense colors and richer, more complex grounds.
  • We should probably not assume that his changes in technique - the turn away from the live model, the shift in pigments and grounds - were determined by haste and flight.
5.2(In embroidery or ceramics) a plain surface to which decoration is applied.
5.3A piece of wood fixed to a wall as a base for boards, plaster, or joinery.
6 (grounds) Solid particles, especially of coffee, which form a residue; sediment: machines which presoak the coffee grounds produce a superior cup of coffee
More example sentences
  • Most of the coffee in it was the residue from the coffee grounds, but he didn't care.
  • After four minutes, you press the plunger to force the coffee grounds to the bottom; they're trapped by a wire mesh.
  • With trembling hands, she shook the coffee grounds into the filter.
7North American Electrical connection to the earth.
8 Music short for ground bass.


[with object]
1Prohibit or prevent (a pilot or an aircraft) from flying: a bitter wind blew from the north-east and the bombers were grounded
More example sentences
  • He had been praised for a mission where he rescued injured youngsters in atrocious flying conditions which had grounded every other aircraft.
  • Some flights to the US could be grounded after the airline pilots' union called on its members not to fly with armed sky marshals on board.
  • He said the airline has grounded the pilot with pay while executives investigate the incident.
prevent from flying, keep on the ground
1.1 informal (Of a parent) refuse to allow (a child) to go out socially as a punishment: he was grounded for hitting her on the head
More example sentences
  • Being grounded by your parents will be treated as an unexcused absence.
  • I was kicked out of the altar serving program and I was grounded by my parents for a good month.
  • The social ostracism extends to grounding the child or even making him go to bed early.
2(With reference to a ship) run or go aground: [with object]: rather than be blown up, Muller grounded his ship on a coral reef
More example sentences
  • Initially it seems that the ship is grounded as solidly as a breakwater, but after a while the creaks and groans are evidence of movement, however slight this may be.
  • Yesterday, salvors were also hard at work on the cargo ship Sagitarius, which is grounded on the rocks off Leaches Bay.
  • If river levels sink too low, barges could be grounded and agriculture thrown into chaos.
run aground, become stranded, run ashore, beach, become beached, land, be high and dry
3 (usually be grounded in) Give (something abstract) a firm theoretical or practical basis: the study of history must be grounded in a thorough knowledge of the past
More example sentences
  • The brilliant synthesis was grounded in his own practical experience.
  • This radical political practice was grounded in an equally radical theology.
  • The music is soulful while being grounded in the aesthetic and working practices of jazz.
base, found, establish, set, settle, root, build, construct, form
3.1Instruct (someone) thoroughly in a subject: Eva’s governess grounded her in Latin and Greek
informal give the gen about, give the low-down on, gen up on, clue up on, clue in on, fill in on, put in the picture about
3.2 (as adjective grounded) Well balanced and sensible: for someone so young, Chris is extremely grounded
4Place (something) on the ground or touch the ground with (something): he was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker
More example sentences
  • However replays showed his foot went into touch as he grounded the ball.
  • The irony is that he would have been two strokes better off had he not been penalised for grounding his club in a bunker during Thursday's first round.
  • However, he made no attempt to ground the ball and ran touch in goal for what should have been a certain try.
5North American Connect (an electrical device) with the ground.
Example sentences
  • The method further includes contacting the second metallization layer with a conductive liquid that is electrically grounded.
  • And since this pipe extended a considerable distance below ground, it served as an adequate basis for grounding the entire electrical system.
  • The spark plugs must be grounded to complete the electrical circuit.
6 [no object] (ground out) Baseball (Of a batter) be put out because of hitting a ground ball to a fielder who throws it to first base before the batter touches that base: he grounded out to shortstop
More example sentences
  • The batter grounded out, shortstop to first, and the runner from second rounded third and attempted to score on the play.
  • He started Game 6 at first base and grounded out to first in his only at-bat.
  • He ended the inning by grounding out to third.


1(Of an animal) living on or in the ground.
Example sentences
  • Perhaps he disturbed a nest of ground rats or threatened the eggs of some bird.
  • It didn't even seem like the ground creatures that lived in the woods knew about it.
  • Very few ground snakes lift their heads up high so there's not much need to detect airborne sounds.
1.1(Of a fish) bottom-dwelling.
1.2(Of a plant) low-growing.
Example sentences
  • The ground flora in the oak woods ranges from areas of bilberry through grassy swards to rich moss carpets and small alder flushes.
  • I munch a mushroom, then strip a spiny ground herb to yield a mouthful of sweet white pith.
  • Most of the ground lichen pastures are found in the northern herding districts.
2(In aviation) relating to the ground rather than the air (with particular reference to the maintenance and servicing of aircraft: ground crew
More example sentences
  • He says the agreement covered pilots and cabin crew, terminal services and other ground staff.
  • This dispute also involves ground service staff and check-in agents as well as load controllers.
  • Suddenly things got busy around the aircraft and I asked our ground maintenance what was going on.



be thick (or thin) on the ground

Exist in large (or small) numbers or amounts: good men are thin on the ground
More example sentences
  • Parents however were thin on the ground except for the usual dedicated few.
  • Sympathy for what he himself has overcome since last August is strangely thin on the ground.
  • Others argue that allied troops are too thin on the ground to make any difference.

break ground

North American
1Do preparatory digging or other work prior to building or planting something: this tractor can break ground in the spring and throw snow in the winter
More example sentences
  • Either he spoke at your school or broke ground for your office building, or you met him when he was running for mayor of Calgary or you saw him speak when he was lieutenant-governor.
  • The number of housing projects builders broke ground on in January declined by the largest amount in nearly a year as bad winter weather played havoc with construction activity.
  • Five years ago, developers broke ground for River Station in the same area, and the first of some 360 new condos sold at prices twice as high as had been predicted.
2 another term for break new ground.
Example sentences
  • Author Sara Paretsky broke ground in contemporary mystery writing with the 1982 debut of V.I. Warshawski, a tough-talking, hard-boiled and independent female detective.
  • While it broke ground by merging political and social issues with blistering, tribal-influenced metal, the group was never an overtly spiritual or introspective band.
  • Of course, of course, and it wasn't until after - then people said, ‘Oh, you broke ground.’

break new (or fresh) ground

Do something innovative and beneficial: this case breaks new ground of great constitutional importance
More example sentences
  • This innovative method plainly breaks new ground.
  • In 1901, the hotel also broke new ground with the introduction of the first automatic telephone equipment in Shanghai.
  • Many of these advertisements broke new ground and initiated a completely fresh style in British commercial art.

cut the ground from under someone's feet

Do something which leaves someone without a reason for their actions or opinions: she rounded on Nathan with a devastating tirade and cut the ground from under his feet
More example sentences
  • Perhaps even more disturbing for him, he half-wittingly joined in the assault, cutting the ground from under his feet.
  • The Olympics, though, cut the ground from under his feet.
  • Eventually the ideology that has won the support of the majority will prevail and cut the ground from under the tyrant's feet.

from the ground up

informal Completely or complete: they needed a rethink of their doctrine from the ground up
More example sentences
  • I washed cars during summer and holiday vacations and learned the business from the ground up.
  • My family believes in hard work and learning the business from the ground up.
  • Too few are willing to pay their dues and learn the business from the ground up.

gain ground

Become more popular or accepted: new moral attitudes are gaining ground
More example sentences
  • Nevertheless, foreign influences upon traditional normative structures in developing countries gained ground with increasing momentum.
  • At the turn of the century a political and social movement called Progressivism was gaining ground in this country.
  • But with British newspapers increasingly gaining ground here, that tradition may be changing.
make headway, make progress, make strides, progress, advance, proceed, move, get on, get ahead, come on, come along
informal be getting there

gain ground on

Get closer to someone or something that is ahead in a pursuit or competitive situation: the dollar gained ground on all other major currencies
More example sentences
  • The race looks to be a close and competitive as ever, as we are aiming to gain ground on the few boats ahead of us, while keeping those behind just there.
  • Votes go up and down across all classes, with Labour recently gaining ground on all fronts.
  • It does so because it believes that recessions are a great time to gain ground on the competition.

get off the ground (or get something off the ground)

Start or cause to start happening successfully: there’d have to be a public inquiry before the project got off the ground
More example sentences
  • Most scientists have a lot more trouble getting their projects off the ground.
  • At recent meetings held in these areas I have been lobbied very strongly regarding this issue because of delays caused by planning in getting projects off the ground.
  • He said: ‘There has been a real sense of community spirit in getting this project off the ground and we would like to thank all those who are helping us.’
get going, get under way, begin, start, start off, go ahead
informal kick off
formal commence
set in motion, get under way, get going, start, begin, activate, institute, initiate, launch, get in operation, get working/functioning
formal commence

give (or lose) ground

Retreat or lose one’s advantage during a conflict or competition: he refused to give ground on this issue
More example sentences
  • Any delay in addressing this opportunity is likely to mean losing ground to the competition.
  • With feelings still running high in the wake of the collapse of the European summit last month, after a public bust-up between Britain and France, Paris is refusing to give ground.
  • Meanwhile, further one-day walkouts in London over cost-of-living allowances could be staged if the Government refuses to give ground.

go to ground

(Of a fox or other animal) enter its earth or burrow: rabbits evicted from one set of burrows will go to ground elsewhere
More example sentences
  • Quite frequently, instead of being caught by the hounds, the fox will go to ground, typically in a fox earth.
  • In the U.S. hounds are trained to pursue the fox until it goes to ground (finds cover in one of its holes).
  • For instance practices like digging up foxes that have gone to ground and blocking exit holes should not be allowed.
10.1(Of a person) hide or become inaccessible, especially for a long time: he went to ground following the presidential coup
More example sentences
  • He was a businessman who arranged for the four to go to ground in a small flat and there they hid for 1,032 days until the liberation in 1945.
  • Take this week for instance: I've been absent due to illness - and that's what she did - totally went to ground and recovered in private and stuff.
  • Last week, he went to ground in the Alps in advance of Wednesday's crucial meeting with the British Olympic Association and the results of the second test that could seal his fate.
hide, hide out, hide oneself, conceal oneself, secrete oneself, shelter, take cover, lie low, go to earth, go underground
informal hole up
British informal lie doggo

stand one's ground

1 (also hold one's ground) Not retreat or lose one’s advantage in the face of opposition: you will be able to hold your ground and resist the enemy’s attack I’m proud of standing my ground on many issues
More example sentences
  • I had to at least hold my ground, or lose all semblance of competency.
  • But they did manage to hold their ground on the key issue of keeping those jobs at home.
  • Shoulder to shoulder with any striker, he wants to make sure he will be able to hold his ground.
2 (stand your ground) US Law Denoting a law or legal principle that permits a person to use deadly force in self-defence without first trying to retreat.
Example sentences
  • He was grateful the president also advocated taking a closer look at the message sent by "stand your ground laws."
  • This panel discussion on Stand Your Ground examines whether this law is a justifiable explanation for self-defense or a license to kill innocent people.
  • Some twenty-seven states have Stand Your Ground laws involving justifiable homicide when attacked.

make up ground

Get closer to someone ahead in a race or competition: he was forced to make up ground after a bad start and was never able to catch the leader
More example sentences
  • He made up ground before the convention, and he made up ground - even moving ahead nationally - during the convention.
  • He bobbled coming out of the gate and spent most of the race making up ground before flattening out in the stretch and finishing third.
  • It was Austria's Kate Allen, who came out of the water 44th out of 50 competitors, gradually made up ground on the bike and finished with a 34-minute run to win by 6.72 seconds.

on the ground

In a place where real, practical work is done: the troops on the ground are cynical
More example sentences
  • They are the ones who can really drive change on the ground, and make a difference.
  • It can then be guided by an operator on the ground with the aid of the live video link to screens on the ground.
  • He appears to have been caught out by not monitoring what was happening on the ground.

on one's own ground

In one’s own territory or area of knowledge or experience: I feel relaxed if I’m interviewed on my own ground
More example sentences
  • When a tragedy occurs on our own ground, our own territory, we identify with it much more.
  • ‘It will be nice to play on our own ground and play friendly matches with other clubs in the area,’ said the club chairman.
  • We are going there with their record of not having lost on their own ground and it will be a difficult game.

prepare the ground

Make it easier for something to occur or be developed: these measures prepared the ground for further reform
More example sentences
  • Several developments helped prepare the ground for this achievement.
  • It is a means of preparing the ground for enhancing personal development and contributes to partnership between an individual and the employing organisation.
  • In preparing the ground for such a development, an examination of the central lessons of the miners' strike is of vital importance.

run someone/thing to ground

see run.

work (or run) oneself into the ground

Exhaust oneself by working or running very hard: they stole the game from us despite my players running themselves into the ground
More example sentences
  • He ran himself into the ground, and collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the game.
  • Once that hope had gone, she worked hard for a while and then realised she was running herself into the ground - and for what?
  • And he said some social workers took things too far, working themselves into the ground and damaging their own health, investigating every possible indication of abuse.


Old English grund, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch grond and German Grund.

Words that rhyme with ground

abound, aground, around, astound, bound, compound, confound, dumbfound, expound, found, hound, impound, interwound, mound, pound, profound, propound, redound, round, sound, stoneground, surround, theatre-in-the-round (US theater-in-the-round), underground, wound

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There are 2 main definitions of ground in English:

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ground 2

Pronunciation: /ɡraʊnd/


past and past participle of grind.


1Reduced to fine particles by crushing or mincing: ground cumin
More example sentences
  • This is not always necessary as some butchers sell finely ground mince.
  • Richworth produce a fine ground up trout pellet that is ideal for my purposes.
  • Remove from the oven, dry on paper towels and then toss them in the cumin, chilli and salt and freshly ground pepper.
1.1Shaped, roughened, or polished by grinding: the thick opaque ground perimeter of the lenses
More example sentences
  • The individual faces are then ground and polished on a lap using diamond powder as an abrasive.


ground down

Exhausted or worn down: why would a competent and effective woman get so ground down?
More example sentences
  • The principal sufferers are the suppliers, and most of her book is spent on the way these farmers, food processors and nurserymen are systematically ground down by the supermarket buyers.
  • The Knights began the game the better but Sheffield, just like they had done when beating Batley, started to come back into it after 15 minutes or so, with their forwards trying to ground down the opposition.
  • He never seemed too ground down by office even when he was in the eye of the political storm.

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