Definition of terraform in US English:



[with object]
  • (especially in science fiction) transform (a planet) so as to resemble the earth, especially so that it can support human life.

    ‘that wild idea to use comets to terraform Venus’
    ‘the terraforming of Mars’
    • ‘The pointless grudges and differences that constantly seem to cause us to take up arms against each other will no longer exist, freeing us to pursue knowledge, the arts, and terraforming the moon.’
    • ‘Naturally, a planet would be fully assessed before it is terraformed, and if we detect harmful elements within a world's makeup that cannot be dealt with, that world will be passed over.’
    • ‘You're talking about terraforming an entire planet!’
    • ‘There's still the matter of terraforming the planet etc., but Mars is looking increasingly viable as an inhabitable planet.’
    • ‘Mars is the only planet that might be terraformed and turned into an Earth-like planet.’
    • ‘The moon had been terraformed almost a century earlier, but its atmosphere was still thin.’
    • ‘We might have cured cancer, terraformed Mars, ended world hunger, discovered new energy sources, developed interstellar travel, and met fantastic alien races.’
    • ‘The Ralok were explorers and liked to find abandoned or unoccupied planets and terraform them to be suitable for colonization.’
    • ‘Although terraforming a planet is technologically feasible, is it ethically correct?’
    • ‘Some people have more wild notions for sending humans into space - like putting colonies on Mars or terraforming Mars.’
    • ‘The combination of nano-technology and artificial intelligence towards the startling application of terraforming an alien planet might have been imagined before, but never like this.’
    • ‘If there were a society with enough technical power to terraform Mars, they would certainly do it.’
    • ‘In this edition of How Stuff Will Work, you will find out why Mars is the ideal candidate for colonization, and how we plan to terraform the red planet for human habitation.’
    • ‘But, like grand schemes for terraforming Mars and colonizing it, I doubt it will ever happen.’
    • ‘The completion of terraforming the red planet created a worldwide coverage over the media, and everyone's eyes were on the television screen.’
    • ‘The course was plotted with near perfection and brought them close to the first planet in Sol, Mercury, its orbit drastically altered due to the need for terraforming.’
    • ‘There was one more speaker, Martyn Fogg, telling us all about mathematical models for terraforming Mars.’
    • ‘Archeological evidence points to the fact our planet was overhauled and terraformed some five thousand years ago.’
    • ‘Ironically, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and CFCs, which have undesirable effects on Earth, could be instrumental in terraforming Mars.’
    • ‘In the meantime, mankind makes multiple efforts to reach, colonize, and terraform Venus, taking half a million years to achieve the first successful landing.’


1940s: from Latin terra ‘earth’ + the verb form.