Definition of earth in English:

earth

noun

  • 1The planet on which we live; the world:

    ‘the diversity of life on earth’
    • ‘Mercury is also the only planet other than Earth that has a global magnetic field.’
    • ‘The first chapter deals with the shape and place of the Earth within a spherical universe.’
    • ‘At the side of the Earth nearest the Moon the oceans bulge upwards due to its pull.’
    • ‘This is because Venus and the Earth orbit the Sun at a slight angle to each other.’
    • ‘In fact, the earthquake was so powerful that the Earth may have even wobbled on its axis.’
    • ‘Neither the Earth nor the Moon is a perfect sphere so they do not behave as a point mass.’
    • ‘Galileo used parallax arguments to prove that the New Star could not be close to the Earth.’
    • ‘The purpose of this project was to help settle the question regarding the shape of the Earth.’
    • ‘This makes our very late appearance in the history of the Earth a sensible outcome.’
    • ‘Such a machine would break the bounds of the Earth's gravity and shoot off into space.’
    • ‘I realized then that the Earth is just a giant rock orbiting around the sun in this empty space.’
    • ‘The course of life on planet Earth might even turn out to be described by such a picture.’
    • ‘So most of the fuel that a rocket takes on board is needed simply to escape the Earth's gravity.’
    • ‘He believed that the apparent rotation of the heavens was due to the axial rotation of the Earth.’
    • ‘The discovery suggests that life could exist on planets very different from Earth.’
    • ‘It seems that several of the earlier philosophers had concluded that the Earth is a globe.’
    • ‘We are admonishing those leaders around the world who would invoke war upon the Earth.’
    • ‘Imagine a perturbation of the Earth's orbit big enough to change the size of the sun in the sky.’
    • ‘The dust would then scatter some of the sun's rays back into space, cooling off the Earth.’
    • ‘The reason why these huts are here is because we wish to find a way of living that does not cause damage to the Earth.’
    world, globe, planet, sphere, orb
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The surface of the world as distinct from the sky or the sea:
      ‘the pilot brought the plane gently back to earth’
      • ‘The fog, a misty white at the very base of the mountain, where trees still grew, gave way to earth and, as earth gave way to sky, sky gave way to storm clouds.’
      • ‘The earth plummeted into what appeared to be a succession of bottomless valleys, first on our left, then our right, as we meandered ever upwards.’
      • ‘Vertical windows allow an appreciation of the connection between earth and sky.’
      • ‘As the fat, large drops fell from the heavens and hit the parched earth, the land that had once been in a drought rejoiced, and the angels were glad.’
      • ‘Lightning striking earth is the result of a stormy sky - which electrifies clouds with many million volts.’
      • ‘I am 100 percent certain man and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time.’
      • ‘The words Mystra had written seemed to sink through the paper and into the very earth itself, like raindrops to a thirsty plant.’
      • ‘As I watched them float to earth, I thought of the risks I've taken.’
      land, ground, dry land, solid ground, terra firma
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The present abode of humankind, as distinct from heaven or hell:
      ‘God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven’
      • ‘You say the Quran speaks of the sun and moon and that God separated earth from heaven.’
      • ‘The faithless disciple aims for both heaven and earth and gets neither.’
      • ‘All that occurs in earth and heaven or in past, present, and future is under the Creator's rule.’
      • ‘Holy God of heaven and earth, we are humbled by your divine majesty, and cast about for the best words to honor you.’
      • ‘The emphasis that there are heaven and earth founds a distinction between the accessible earth and a transcendent realm that is yet part of the creation.’
      • ‘He presents earth and heaven, flesh and spirit, as both opposite and parallel; they are counterparts that engender each other by turns.’
      • ‘You may literally be in league with the powers of hell, ruin your life upon earth and miss heaven!’
      • ‘Psalm 104 is an extended hymn about the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator and provider of all.’
      • ‘And then at long last creation's groans and ours shall end and heaven and earth shall be one.’
      • ‘Has any other event been powerful enough to rip the veil that separated heaven from earth and reveal a new and living way to the Father?’
      • ‘God of heaven and earth, Maker of humankind, I cry to you!’
      • ‘Together, heaven and earth offer one hymn, one prayer, one feast, and one doxology.’
      • ‘Helmont saw the cosmos as a living, spiritual organism with no rupture between heaven and earth.’
      • ‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.’
      • ‘Never leaving his side, we will gather and store up all of the holy and loving thoughts inspired by the presence of the Lord of heaven and earth.’
      • ‘Placed in that high position between heaven and earth, the priest is like Moses in battle: he requires people to hold up his arms.’
      • ‘God's reign is already present on our earth in mystery.’
      • ‘A new heaven and a new earth will replace the world as we know it today.’
      • ‘You would be scared out of your mind, but there is nothing more important or more desirable than going before God, Creator of heaven and earth.’
      • ‘As the stones at the site indicate, this is a sacred place, a place of communion between heaven and earth, and through his dream Jacob recognizes its powers.’
  • 2[mass noun] The substance of the land surface; soil:

    ‘a layer of earth’
    • ‘Her hands were covered with rubber gloves, and they were soiled with earth.’
    • ‘Trotsky asserted that, just as an earthquake revealed the layers of earth and rock beneath the surface, so a social upheaval would uncover the layers of society and its myriad forms.’
    • ‘When the flow slowed, the river would deposit its burden of silt, forming a new layer of earth.’
    • ‘Harvest in dry weather, shaking off any loose earth, and leave on the surface of the soil in sun if possible for a few days.’
    • ‘At the end of each day the rubbish deposits are covered in a layer of earth, and there are stringent measures to stop polluted water leaking into the ground.’
    • ‘The loosened earth and weakened banks are more prone to collapsing then.’
    • ‘Sunshine fell through the plastic windows of the hexagonal room and landed on containers of earth now devoid of the necessity for protection.’
    • ‘A hole is either drilled or dug through the surface layers of earth until a water bearing layer is encountered.’
    • ‘Cover the ground with cardboard or newspaper, followed by a thin layer of earth.’
    • ‘We come to a bridge under construction, the solid grey concrete piles in stark contrast to the compacted red earth comprising the river banks.’
    • ‘Filling materials in an earth dam should be stable against seepage.’
    • ‘The weapons were concealed in a barrel, hidden in a bank of earth.’
    • ‘They say the trees and the bank of earth next to the railway line currently absorb noise from the trains, and the loss of these will lead to more noise and shaking when they pass.’
    • ‘Veil desperately tried to leap out, but a big clod of earth landed on his head.’
    • ‘These do not actually include a power which would have enabled the council to go upon the land of British Rail and remove the bank of earth.’
    • ‘Water movement through the bodies of earth dams can be studied using the Hele-Shaw models.’
    • ‘In this case a motorcyclist was injured in a collision at a junction where visibility was restricted by a bank of earth on land owned by British Rail.’
    • ‘January's garden is one huddled below ground; its plants submerged beneath a thick layer of frozen earth, itself shrouded beneath a thick carpet of snow.’
    • ‘Under the layers of earth, something begins to move.’
    • ‘Made of rammed earth - the soil excavated from the site - the wall alleviated the need to buy soil or use wood to fence the property.’
    • ‘We also used earth in the soil cement floor of the kitchen and one cottage.’
    • ‘And the rear of the homes are banked up fully with earth, with grass right up across the roof.’
    soil, topsoil, loam, clay, silt, dirt, sod, clod, turf
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[count noun] Used in names of stable, dense, non-volatile inorganic substances, e.g. fuller's earth:
      ‘these crayons are made with a mixture of native earths plus softeners such as China clay’
      • ‘By the usual convention, the element he obtained became known as cerium (all the earths had names ending in - ia, with the ending changed to - ium for the element).’
      • ‘I use a classic fullers earth, glycerine & washing-up liquid mixture, rubbed well into the line.’
      • ‘Around 3000 b.c., the Sumerians found that they could obtain copper from certain earths, or ores, by heating the earths with a source of carbon such as straw.’
      • ‘Ancient and primitive tribes used these plants, often combined with different earths, to colour and decorate their faces and bodies.’
      • ‘Mix 1 part sodium citrate to 6 parts water and 6 parts glycerin and add enough whiting or fuller's earth to make a thick paste.’
      • ‘The palette for fresco painting is traditionally restricted to earths, lime white, carbon black, ultramarine, and glass.’
      • ‘Sparkling or still, it is purified ‘using naturally occurring ceramic earths, coconut and anthracite carbon to create a great house taste’.’
      • ‘A year later Charles Galissard de Marignac in Geneva found a further earth in this substance, which Lecoq isolated in 1886 and called gadolinium.’
      • ‘The soils that are then produced are known as acid brown earths, sols lessivés, or luvisols in the FAO - UNESCO classification.’
      • ‘The use of gritty materials such as diatomaceous earth scattered on the soil surface is also used.’
    2. 2.2literary The substance of the human body:
      ‘we now commit his body to the ground: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’
      • ‘The book is full of ghosts for whom the poet feels duty-bound to speak, and for the most part his theme is what the ghosts long for, the lovely body of earth.’
      • ‘You entrust to the earth our bodies of earth which you fashioned with your own hands and you restore again what you have given, transforming with incorruptibility and grace what is mortal and deformed in us.’
  • 3British [mass noun] Electrical connection to the ground, regarded as having zero electrical potential:

    ‘ensure metal fittings are electrically bonded to earth’
    • ‘When electricity starts to arc from a wire to a metal surface this acts as an earth and causes a massive current flow which would normally blow any fuse.’
    • ‘Older electrical systems in council flats don't have earth wires.’
    • ‘The earth wire was then sleeved in Techflex braid and aquarium hose with some heatshrink added to secure the end.’
    • ‘It has exposed mains voltage solder points on top, no earth connection and one very flimsy and very dull aluminium end.’
    • ‘It is possible to stop a radio signal leaking into the ground via its earth cable by carefully choosing the height at which the antenna is mounted.’
  • 4The underground lair of a badger or fox.

    • ‘They made a number of other estimates, like the number of cubs they believe were born on their farm, the number of breeding earths and other things, all of which were published.’
    • ‘Foxhunters block up earths and badger setts the night before the hunt to ensure that foxes are forced to run until exhausted.’
    • ‘Foxes, chased to exhaustion and death, are often dug out of their earths and feel great pain.’
    • ‘The night before the hunt, foxhunters cover up any earths and badger setts to make sure that the foxes have to run until exhausted.’
    • ‘I will also point out that foxes cannot pose a real danger to game or livestock because huntsmen in some counties build artificial earths to encourage foxes to live and breed there.’
    • ‘Indeed The International Fund for Animal Welfare has frequently uncovered hunts around the country that use artificial earths and food trails to entice foxes on to their land.’
    • ‘Many hunts take steps the night before, or early on the day of the hunt, to block up the entrances to earths, badger setts and artificial places such as drains.’
    • ‘Some hunts even constructed artificial earths within their coverts to further encourage the fox population.’
    den, lair, sett, burrow, warren, tunnel, hole, cave
    View synonyms
  • 5One of the four elements in ancient and medieval philosophy and in astrology (considered essential to the nature of the signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn):

    [as modifier] ‘an earth sign’
    • ‘As the cardinal earth sign Capricorn portrays the enduring and irrepressible spirit of nature.’
    • ‘Because melancholy has as its element earth - dull, heavy and common - it is often not afforded this consideration.’
    • ‘These numbered cards represent the elements of earth, air, fire and water, and usually deal with specific issues and courses of action.’
    • ‘There are four elements - earth, air, fire and water, and three qualities - cardinal, fixed and mutable.’
    • ‘But as the month passes, three of these four activating planets gradually shift into the more demure earth sign of Virgo.’
    • ‘The one thing that is true, and which you have obviously understood, is that each of the sun signs belongs to a particular element - fire, earth, air or water.’
    • ‘These tools represent the four elements - earth, air, fire, and water.’
    • ‘It was a story he recognised could only be told in terms of the four fundamental elements: earth, air, fire, water.’
    • ‘Every part of the regimen was directed by the actions of the four cosmological elements - earth, air, fire, and water - and their correct balance within the body.’
    • ‘Being an earth sign, he is willing to focus on the long term and whatever he began nine years ago should now come to fruition.’
    • ‘The presidents who fell prey to the curse all were elected in years when Jupiter and Saturn conjoined in an earth sign.’
    • ‘Virgo is an earth sign, which is ruled by pragmatism and logic.’
    • ‘To our ancestors, the ancient elements of earth, air, fire and water had profound significance.’
    • ‘An earth sign, they have a particular love of helping in the garden, and of long country walks - and they usually love the rain.’
    • ‘If I'm looking at the best time to plow my field, I want an earth sign rising.’
    • ‘Everything was made up of the four elements of earth, water, fire and air, and their linked qualities of cold, wet, hot and dry.’
    • ‘It is true that they may not have the flair and excessive energy of their fellow Ariens, for the fire of their Sun sign is grounded by the Taurus earth provided in the Moon sign.’
    • ‘There are also four elements: fire, earth, air and water; and four humors - choler or yellow bile, melancholer or black bile, blood and phlegm.’
    • ‘Virgo has a mutable earth symbol, meaning that the ground is soft and moveable; the perfect type to grow plants in.’
    • ‘Yet suspicion of other people's culinary rectitude, along with the practicality of an earth sign, helps make well-adjusted Virgoans splendid cooks.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1British Connect (an electrical device) with the ground:

    ‘the front metal panels must be soundly earthed’
    • ‘When plugged in, the pump is earthed and I have a little more piece of mind!’
    • ‘It was only because the bottom of the sheet stuck in the ground and was earthed that James survived.’
    • ‘Having first checked that everything was earthed off, we went unplugging cables.’
    • ‘When the fencer is correctly earthed, all insulators and connections are correct and there is no vegetation growth on the wire.’
    • ‘The outer (armour-plated) plate is earthed while the insulated inner plate is live.’
    • ‘They are not able to be earthed, filtered, or shielded electrically.’
    • ‘Brown found that although pylons are earthed to make them safe, it is possible to stop a radio signal leaking into the ground via its earth cable by carefully choosing the height at which the antenna is mounted.’
    • ‘Using a computer in Antarctica, even inside the base, meant having to wear a wristband to earth oneself from ever-present static electricity shocks.’
    • ‘The system is earthed by the screws into the metal box in the wall.’
    • ‘Your machine is being earthed by the earth cable in the power cord.’
    • ‘As deck crew, don't touch the winchman or cable until he or it has been earthed - sparks could fly.’
  • 2Hunting
    Drive (a fox) to its underground lair.

    1. 2.1[no object] (of a fox) run to its underground lair.
  • 3earth something upCover the root and lower stem of a plant with heaped-up earth:

    ‘the stems can be earthed up when the plant is about one foot high’
    • ‘You will, however, have to do some digging: once to plant the seed potatoes; once to earth them up to prevent the new tubers growing on the surface and becoming poisonously green; and once to lift the resultant crop.’
    • ‘Instead of earthing my potatoes up, I've been mulching some of them with excess swiss chard and lettuce plants I have been cutting down recently.’
    • ‘I used the rest of my large bucketful on the potatoes in the dustbin to earth them up.’
    • ‘The stems can be blanched by earthing them up, which makes the astringent flavour milder.’

Phrases

  • come (or bring someone) back (down) to earth

    • Return (or cause someone to return) to reality after a period of daydreaming or excitement:

      ‘a sharp knock at the door brought him back to earth’
      • ‘It's been a really hectic few days, and I'm only now beginning to come back down to earth.’
      • ‘I've got such a buzz at the moment I don't know when I'll come back down to earth.’
      • ‘Sarah said: ‘It has been an opportunity to relax and come to terms with what Sally and I have achieved before returning home and coming back down to earth.’’
      • ‘It's only after leaving the shop that you have to come back down to earth.’
      • ‘The problem with holidays is coming back to earth afterwards.’
      • ‘This is by far the best prize we have ever won and I think it will take quite a while to come back down to earth.’
      • ‘I am indescribably relieved that Ma has come back down to earth - it is now possible to have a conversation with her like a normal person.’
      • ‘They've just come back after winning an Olympic gold medal so they are going to be on a high, but they have also got to come back down to earth.’
      • ‘I get really lost in a piece of work and come back to earth with a bump when I have to stop.’
      • ‘The only trouble with this form of mental escape is that sooner or later you must come back to earth, the jolt of this being pretty terrific.’
  • the earth

    • A very large amount:

      ‘her hat cost the earth’
      • ‘We have a council that promises the earth but provides road calming and roundabouts.’
      • ‘He stressed it didn't have to cost the earth to cook fresh locally grown produced.’
      • ‘Why are we too scared to ask for high standards on a job that's costing us the earth?’
      • ‘Yet he has a mortgage, a young family, and does not want to pay the earth for it.’
  • the earth moved (or did the earth move for you?)

    • humorous One had (or did you have?) an orgasm.

      • ‘Of those, a bare majority of 55% admitted that the earth moved for them.’
      • ‘It's been a while since the earth moved for dear old John, bless him.’
  • go to earth

    • 1(of a hunted animal) hide in an underground burrow:

      ‘the fox would go to earth and stay there till dark’
      • ‘I saw it go to earth as I got between two buildings on Foss Islands Road.’
      • ‘After a two hour chase it finally went to earth but a trap was set and the fox captured the next day and bagged so ‘it will again afford another day's sport’.’
      hide, go into hiding, hide out, find a hiding place, conceal oneself, keep out of sight, keep a low profile, take cover, go to earth, go to ground, go underground, cover one's tracks, lurk, skulk
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1Go into hiding:
        ‘he'd gone to earth after that meeting’
        • ‘An anti-hunting MP was forced to go to earth in the face of a noisy protest at one of his routine constituency surgeries by angry Yorkshire hunt supporters.’
        • ‘Intelligence forces have complained that several high-profile suspects they'd been keeping an eye on have gone to earth and now can't be found.’
        • ‘She had gone to earth in the pit opened by the torn-up roots of a fallen tree, and sprang out at his approach.’
  • like nothing on earth

    • informal Very strange:

      ‘they looked like nothing on earth’
      • ‘The noise would be like nothing on earth - certainly nothing in Bellagio.’
      • ‘What turned up was quite a surprise. It looked like black pudding but tasted like nothing on earth.’
      • ‘He was quiet as a lamb and as clever as a thoroughbred, but he looked like nothing on earth, so we lost him.’
      • ‘There was a sound like nothing on earth: groups of male capuchin birds attract females with sounds like the whine of some outer-space cicada insect crossed with a sick cow.’
      • ‘After a sunny morning it smells like nothing on earth - it keeps rubber-neckers away but attracts every dog for miles around!’
      weird, eccentric, odd, peculiar, funny, bizarre, unusual, abnormal
      View synonyms
  • on earth

    • Used for emphasis, especially in questions and negative statements:

      ‘who on earth would venture out in weather like this?’
      • ‘So my question is, how on earth do you keep tabs on all of the available programming?’
      • ‘You may wonder what on earth has prompted me to ask such a question, so let me explain.’
      • ‘Why on earth do they bother selling them to anyone when it's clear no librarians want to read them?’
      • ‘How on earth are the sport stars of the future ever going to get that edge over the competition.’
      • ‘So why on earth does he want to make yet another death-defying walk in the Grand Canyon?’
      • ‘The question that remains to baffle us is why on earth it took so long for anything to be done.’
      • ‘Why on earth would I want to go near the things which filled me with so much fear?’
      • ‘After all, who on earth is interested in reading about our inability to cope?’
      • ‘I am curious to find out what on earth possessed him to do this and why a lime?’
      • ‘How on earth do you manage so many top class horses and find dates and races for them all?’
      at all, in any way, on earth
      View synonyms

Origin

Old English eorthe, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aarde and German Erde.

Pronunciation:

earth

/əːθ/