Definition of terrestrial in US English:



  • 1Of, on, or relating to the earth.

    ‘increased ultraviolet radiation may disrupt terrestrial ecosystems’
    • ‘According to Parish, peatlands around the world store 25 to 30 percent of all the carbon in terrestrial ecosystems and regulate the flow of water.’
    • ‘The canopy of sky implies its counterpart, the terrestrial sphere.’
    • ‘Predicting the impact of environmental change on terrestrial ecosystems is severely limited by a lack of understanding of basic soil processes.’
    • ‘Body size distributions have been linked to physical habitat structure in terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Peatland streams potentially represent important conduits for the exchange of gaseous carbon between the terrestrial ecosystem and the atmosphere.’
    • ‘Interactions between these climate stress factors may exacerbate the rate and direction of individual climate stress factors and their effects on terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Canopy photosynthesis models are useful to analyse the size structure of populations in plant communities and to predict the structure and function of future terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘The plants, invertebrates, and tetrapods can be thought of as three separate subsystems of the larger terrestrial ecosystem.’
    • ‘In the past, ecosystem ecologists have focused considerably more attention on the cyling of nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems than phosphorus.’
    • ‘Clearly we still have a ways to go before oceans and marine wildlife receive the same level of attention afforded to terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Concerns about global climate change and predicted changes in terrestrial ecosystems highlight the need for the accurate quantification of productivity at all scales.’
    • ‘Wilson charged around fifty dollars for a pair of globes: a terrestrial and a celestial one.’
    • ‘Boreal forests and arctic tundra are among the coldest and least productive terrestrial environments on earth.’
    • ‘Fourier submitted his 1807 memoir together with additional work on the cooling of infinite solids and terrestrial and radiant heat.’
    • ‘We have also focused on the potential health effects of dust on terrestrial ecosystems in the Caribbean and southeastern United States.’
    • ‘In most terrestrial ecosystems, there are two main sources of heavy metals: the underlying parent material and the atmosphere.’
    • ‘It is now widely recognized that the events at the Permian-Triassic boundary gave rise to major terrestrial ecosystem collapse.’
    • ‘Transient flooding with fresh water is a world-wide phenomenon in river floodplains and wetlands as well as other terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Fresh water habitats should not be viewed as simple appendages of protected terrestrial ecosystems as it is currently the case.’
    • ‘The terrestrial biosphere is, indeed, a vast natural carbon store, but its capacity to take up substantially increased quantities of CO2 is severely limited.’
    earthly, worldly, mundane, earthbound
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Denoting television broadcasting using equipment situated on the ground rather than by satellite.
      ‘terrestrial and cable technology’
      • ‘And nobody wanted a fifth terrestrial television channel.’
      • ‘Freeview will launch after significant improvements have been made to the quality and reliability of the digital terrestrial television signal.’
      • ‘While there are still some expensive series for children on terrestrial television, they are the exception rather than the rule.’
      • ‘One of the main challenges facing the BBC is encouraging people to change over to digital TV before the terrestrial signal is finally switched off in 2012.’
      • ‘A quick check in this week's listings threw up the following property-related shows on the five terrestrial channels.’
      • ‘There are no plans at present to repeat this programme on the BBC terrestrial or digital channels, although I will certainly register your interest for the attention of our schedulers.’
      • ‘Floyd is one of the original TV chefs, following in the footsteps of Fanny Craddock and the Galloping Gourmet, but has not been regularly on terrestrial TV for around two years.’
      • ‘We're pleased that most of Britain's premier sporting events are now live on terrestrial television.’
      • ‘Now there is Channel 5, digital terrestrial television, digital satellite and cable.’
      • ‘As England plays host to the Women's European Football Championships 2005, the channel has comprehensive coverage - a first for terrestrial television.’
      • ‘With substantial on-screen competition from cable and satellite as well as terrestrial broadcasters, expectations of the BBC have never been higher.’
      • ‘In 1996 the government decided to allocate frequency space to digital terrestrial television to start broadcasts in 1998.’
      • ‘Sadly, most punters are not able to visit the racetrack every day, and the vast majority of enthusiasts depend on television, whether terrestrial, cable or satellite, to follow racing.’
      • ‘Another issue is the regulation of terrestrial television stations and the explosion of digital TV channels.’
      • ‘There are some terrestrial premières that shouldn't be missed, even if you've already seen them on the big screen.’
      • ‘The exception is the United States where sports rights have not migrated to Pay TV but stayed with one of the three private terrestrial networks, for a variety of reasons.’
      • ‘Events that appear set to continue to be broadcast on terrestrial television include the All Ireland finals and rugby internationals.’
      • ‘In terms of the management of terrestrial television and radio stations, the media's role of both serving the public and serving as public forums should be emphasized.’
      • ‘TV ads will be placed on both terrestrial and satellite television, and radio ads on national and local radio stations.’
      • ‘As the newest of the five terrestrial channels the station has had an uphill struggle to get into the hearts and minds of the viewing public.’
    2. 1.2 Of or on dry land.
      ‘a submarine eruption will be much more explosive than its terrestrial counterpart’
      • ‘The Crustaceamorpha are arguably the most well known of the arthropods because of their contributions to aquatic, aerial, and terrestrial food webs.’
      • ‘The reef is an improbable landscape of improbable creatures, and we can do little but borrow descriptions from the terrestrial world in an attempt to describe them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A recent study published in Nature sampled diverse ecosystems comprising 20% of the earth's terrestrial surface.’
      • ‘Beaches are transition ecosystems between marine and terrestrial environments.’
      • ‘Like their terrestrial counterparts, the oceanic deserts are low in biomass.’
    3. 1.3 (of an animal) living on or in the ground; not aquatic, arboreal, or aerial.
      • ‘Eastern Box Turtles are omnivorous terrestrial reptiles found throughout much of the Eastern United States.’
      • ‘Aerial plankton traps deployed on ships and airplanes have documented a diversity of small to minute terrestrial insects and arachnids in the air stream over the open Pacific.’
      • ‘Such antipredator behavior is extremely common, occurring in taxa ranging from aquatic invertebrates to terrestrial mammals.’
      • ‘Daniels is the owner of seven tortoises, as terrestrial turtles are commonly known.’
      • ‘The emergence of terrestrial vertebrates from fish in the Late Devonian was one of the most significant events in the history of life.’
      • ‘During the Norian age the fortunes of the many types of Carnian terrestrial herbivores seem to have declined.’
      • ‘As terrestrial creatures, we tend to think of life on our planet as being essentially life on land.’
      • ‘The astragalus of diadectids is identical to those of late Paleozoic terrestrial amniotes in structure and relationship to neighboring elements.’
      • ‘The carcharodontosaurs were among the largest terrestrial predators that ever lived, some reaching as much as forty feet long and weighing four tons.’
      • ‘However, the man-woman pair bond and man child pair bond are not paralleled by any terrestrial primate nor many mammals.’
      • ‘Warm-blooded animals are the only terrestrial creatures that live in large herds or flocks or that migrate long distances.’
      • ‘But somewhat surprisingly, this terrestrial arachnid doesn't mind swimming, either.’
      • ‘Because turbinates reduce respiratory water and heat loss, they are tightly linked to high rates of lung ventilation in these terrestrial endotherms.’
      • ‘However, insects remained very rare and marginal members of the terrestrial fauna through the Mississippian.’
      • ‘They probably subsisted on insects and other small terrestrial invertebrates and perhaps even on small vertebrates.’
      • ‘Mesites, small terrestrial birds with poor powers of flight, are especially noteworthy because they are one of the very oldest branches of the gruiform tree.’
      • ‘Male fowl are often vigilant, and they use two types of alarm call to signal aerial and terrestrial predators.’
      • ‘Northern Waterthrushes eat large aquatic and terrestrial insects, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates.’
      • ‘Large terrestrial scorpions would be among the top predators.’
      • ‘Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates are the most common food of the Solitary Sandpiper.’
    4. 1.4 (of a plant) growing on land or in the soil; not aquatic or epiphytic.
      • ‘The arguments centred on the ability of terrestrial vegetation to take up CO2, and retain it in the form of wood, roots and soil carbon.’
      • ‘Many vascular epiphytes share the understorey environment with terrestrial herbs, shrubs and tree seedlings.’
      • ‘Unlike kelp and other seaweed, sea grasses are descended from terrestrial plants, which adapted to shallow non-rocky coastal waters.’
      • ‘Both the shortage and the excess of water may cause severe stress to terrestrial plants, with ultimately lethal outcomes.’
      • ‘Both the water ferns and Ceratopteris occur in clades with terrestrial ferns and the aquatic habit appears to be derived in these lineages.’
      • ‘In fact, compared to the 77,710 species of terrestrial fungi, only 498 marine species were recognized as of 1986.’
      • ‘In a terrestrial plant, the slightly alkaline cytoplasm of a typical cell is sandwiched between the acidic apoplast and the likewise acidic vacuole.’
      • ‘Recurrent natural disturbances and abiotic stress factors are integral components of many terrestrial plant communities.’
      • ‘These totals incorporate both terrestrial and aquatic angiosperms, together with gymnosperms, including the enigmatic gnetophyte Welwitschia mirabilis.’
      • ‘Those dramatic events drastically affected the marine community, but had little impact on terrestrial flora.’
      • ‘Root systems of terrestrial plants serve many important tasks among which anchorage of the plant and uptake of water plus nutrients are the most important ones.’
      • ‘Global climate change and its impacts on terrestrial vegetation are of major international concern at present.’
      • ‘Up until now more than 30,000 macrofossils have been excavated, all of which document a highly diverse terrestrial flora and fauna.’
      • ‘Ranunculus repens is a terrestrial plant that thrives in damp habitats.’
      • ‘Lady slippers and some kinds of cymbidium are terrestrial orchids.’
      • ‘Within these plots we recorded all plant species observed, including terrestrial lichens.’
      • ‘The mechanical design of terrestrial plants has received much attention; studies have investigated the design of upright species and the mechanics of climbing woody species.’
      • ‘Ananas is a terrestrial genus, but it grows continuously, whereas most terrestrial orchids have distinct active and dormant phases.’
      • ‘The cuticle of terrestrial vascular plants and some bryophytes is covered with a complex mixture of lipids, usually called epicuticular waxes.’
      • ‘The vegetation consists of succulent plants, cacti and terrestrial bromeliads, with thorny trees and bushes hitched to a sandy soil.’
    5. 1.5Astronomy (of a planet) similar in size or composition to the earth, especially being one of the four inner planets of our solar system.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Scientists see Titan as a complex world, closer to a terrestrial planet than a moon typical of the outer planetary systems.’
      • ‘Moving beyond the Earth to the other terrestrial planets, we find that the rocks there are also dominantly silicates.’
      • ‘Like earth, Mars is a terrestrial planet quite unlike the spectacularly strange gas giants that lie beyond the ‘Red Planet’ and the Asteroid Belt.’
    6. 1.6archaic Relating to the earth as opposed to heaven.
      • ‘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.’
      earthly, temporal, mundane, mortal, human, non-spiritual, unspiritual, material, materialistic, physical, tangible, carnal, fleshly, bodily, corporeal, gross, sensual, base, sordid, vile, profane
      View synonyms


  • An inhabitant of the earth.

    • ‘Yogic meditation allowed Vedic sages to see in their minds' eyes, the likenesses, homologies and equivalences between the cosmic, the terrestrial and the spiritual.’
    • ‘Now it had become a reality in a queer way, but what a letdown it was, dreaming of the celestial and getting the terrestrial.’
    • ‘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).’


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