Definition of terrestrial in English:


Line breaks: ter¦res|trial
Pronunciation: /təˈrɛstrɪəl


  • 1On or relating to the earth: increased ultraviolet radiation may disrupt terrestrial ecosystems
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    • Concerns about global climate change and predicted changes in terrestrial ecosystems highlight the need for the accurate quantification of productivity at all scales.
    • Boreal forests and arctic tundra are among the coldest and least productive terrestrial environments on earth.
    • Clearly we still have a ways to go before oceans and marine wildlife receive the same level of attention afforded to terrestrial ecosystems.
  • 1.1Denoting television broadcast using equipment situated on the ground rather than by satellite: a fifth terrestrial channel
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    • Now there is Channel 5, digital terrestrial television, digital satellite and cable.
    • In 1996 the government decided to allocate frequency space to digital terrestrial television to start broadcasts in 1998.
    • Events that appear set to continue to be broadcast on terrestrial television include the All Ireland finals and rugby internationals.
  • 1.2 Astronomy (Of a planet) similar in size or composition to the earth, especially being one of the four inner planets.
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    • The terrestrial planets in our solar system all have very specific spectroscopic fingerprints that tell us quite a bit about their atmospheres.
    • From the evidence found on the Moon, geophysicists can extrapolate a picture of the early history of the four terrestrial planets.
    • Like earth, Mars is a terrestrial planet quite unlike the spectacularly strange gas giants that lie beyond the ‘Red Planet’ and the Asteroid Belt.
  • 1.3 archaic Relating to the earth as opposed to heaven.
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    • A medieval painting of angel musicians does not prove that their rebecs, harps, and lutes were used in church music but may hint at the musical activities of their terrestrial counterparts.
  • 2Of or on dry land: a submarine eruption will be much more explosive than its terrestrial counterpart
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    • Like their terrestrial counterparts, the oceanic deserts are low in biomass.
    • Today's terrestrial habitats are dominated by the angiosperms - flowering plants, one of whose key features is the possession of fruits of a wide range of forms and types.
    • The Crustaceamorpha are arguably the most well known of the arthropods because of their contributions to aquatic, aerial, and terrestrial food webs.
  • 2.1(Of an animal) living on or in the ground; not aquatic, arboreal, or aerial.
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    • Northern Waterthrushes eat large aquatic and terrestrial insects, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates.
    • As terrestrial creatures, we tend to think of life on our planet as being essentially life on land.
    • But somewhat surprisingly, this terrestrial arachnid doesn't mind swimming, either.
  • 2.2(Of a plant) growing on land or in the soil; not aquatic or epiphytic.
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    • Many vascular epiphytes share the understorey environment with terrestrial herbs, shrubs and tree seedlings.
    • Both the water ferns and Ceratopteris occur in clades with terrestrial ferns and the aquatic habit appears to be derived in these lineages.
    • Ananas is a terrestrial genus, but it grows continuously, whereas most terrestrial orchids have distinct active and dormant phases.


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  • An inhabitant of the earth.
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    • That is certainly plausible enough, but is he really the man to lecture us terrestrials on the distinction between ‘science’ and ‘fantasy’?
    • The Rose Center is a crystal cube, a machine in a garden, a welcoming space station for both terrestrials and aliens (that's anyone from outside Manhattan).
    • Now it had become a reality in a queer way, but what a letdown it was, dreaming of the celestial and getting the terrestrial.



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  • ‘We will compete with anyone who offers Internet access, whether terrestrially or by satellite,’ adds iSky CEO Tom Moore.
  • In addition, the sediments have suffered remarkably little burial and thermal alteration and contain well preserved marine organisms and terrestrially derived plant remains.
  • Mechanical failures considered minor in terrestrially based equipment can prove catastrophic in space because we cannot service the system hardware.


late Middle English (in the sense 'temporal, worldly, mundane'): from Latin terrestris (from terra 'earth') + -al.

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