Definition of terrestrial in US English:



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

    ‘increased ultraviolet radiation may disrupt terrestrial ecosystems’
    • ‘In the past, ecosystem ecologists have focused considerably more attention on the cyling of nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems than phosphorus.’
    • ‘The terrestrial biosphere is, indeed, a vast natural carbon store, but its capacity to take up substantially increased quantities of CO2 is severely limited.’
    • ‘We have also focused on the potential health effects of dust on terrestrial ecosystems in the Caribbean and southeastern United States.’
    • ‘The plants, invertebrates, and tetrapods can be thought of as three separate subsystems of the larger terrestrial ecosystem.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In most terrestrial ecosystems, there are two main sources of heavy metals: the underlying parent material and the atmosphere.’
    • ‘The canopy of sky implies its counterpart, the terrestrial sphere.’
    • ‘Transient flooding with fresh water is a world-wide phenomenon in river floodplains and wetlands as well as other terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Boreal forests and arctic tundra are among the coldest and least productive terrestrial environments on earth.’
    • ‘Concerns about global climate change and predicted changes in terrestrial ecosystems highlight the need for the accurate quantification of productivity at all scales.’
    • ‘Fresh water habitats should not be viewed as simple appendages of protected terrestrial ecosystems as it is currently the case.’
    • ‘Peatland streams potentially represent important conduits for the exchange of gaseous carbon between the terrestrial ecosystem and the atmosphere.’
    • ‘It is now widely recognized that the events at the Permian-Triassic boundary gave rise to major terrestrial ecosystem collapse.’
    • ‘Interactions between these climate stress factors may exacerbate the rate and direction of individual climate stress factors and their effects on 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.’
    • ‘Fourier submitted his 1807 memoir together with additional work on the cooling of infinite solids and terrestrial and radiant heat.’
    • ‘Clearly we still have a ways to go before oceans and marine wildlife receive the same level of attention afforded to terrestrial ecosystems.’
    • ‘Wilson charged around fifty dollars for a pair of globes: a terrestrial and a celestial one.’
    • ‘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.’
    earthly, worldly, mundane, earthbound
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    1. 1.1 Denoting television broadcasting using equipment situated on the ground rather than by satellite.
      ‘terrestrial and cable technology’
      • ‘With substantial on-screen competition from cable and satellite as well as terrestrial broadcasters, expectations of the BBC have never been higher.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Events that appear set to continue to be broadcast on terrestrial television include the All Ireland finals and rugby internationals.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And nobody wanted a fifth terrestrial television channel.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are some terrestrial premières that shouldn't be missed, even if you've already seen them on the big screen.’
      • ‘A quick check in this week's listings threw up the following property-related shows on the five terrestrial channels.’
      • ‘Freeview will launch after significant improvements have been made to the quality and reliability of the digital terrestrial television signal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We're pleased that most of Britain's premier sporting events are now live on terrestrial television.’
      • ‘Another issue is the regulation of terrestrial television stations and the explosion of digital TV channels.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘TV ads will be placed on both terrestrial and satellite television, and radio ads on national and local radio stations.’
      • ‘While there are still some expensive series for children on terrestrial television, they are the exception rather than the rule.’
      • ‘In 1996 the government decided to allocate frequency space to digital terrestrial television to start broadcasts in 1998.’
    2. 1.2 Of or on dry land.
      ‘a submarine eruption will be much more explosive than its terrestrial counterpart’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Crustaceamorpha are arguably the most well known of the arthropods because of their contributions to aquatic, aerial, and terrestrial food webs.’
      • ‘Like their terrestrial counterparts, the oceanic deserts are low in biomass.’
      • ‘Beaches are transition ecosystems between marine and terrestrial environments.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 (of an animal) living on or in the ground; not aquatic, arboreal, or aerial.
      • ‘Northern Waterthrushes eat large aquatic and terrestrial insects, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates.’
      • ‘The astragalus of diadectids is identical to those of late Paleozoic terrestrial amniotes in structure and relationship to neighboring elements.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Because turbinates reduce respiratory water and heat loss, they are tightly linked to high rates of lung ventilation in these terrestrial endotherms.’
      • ‘The emergence of terrestrial vertebrates from fish in the Late Devonian was one of the most significant events in the history of life.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eastern Box Turtles are omnivorous terrestrial reptiles found throughout much of the Eastern United States.’
      • ‘Such antipredator behavior is extremely common, occurring in taxa ranging from aquatic invertebrates to terrestrial mammals.’
      • ‘However, insects remained very rare and marginal members of the terrestrial fauna through the Mississippian.’
      • ‘The carcharodontosaurs were among the largest terrestrial predators that ever lived, some reaching as much as forty feet long and weighing four tons.’
      • ‘Male fowl are often vigilant, and they use two types of alarm call to signal aerial and terrestrial predators.’
      • ‘Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates are the most common food of the Solitary Sandpiper.’
      • ‘However, the man-woman pair bond and man child pair bond are not paralleled by any terrestrial primate nor many mammals.’
      • ‘Daniels is the owner of seven tortoises, as terrestrial turtles are commonly known.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Warm-blooded animals are the only terrestrial creatures that live in large herds or flocks or that migrate long distances.’
      • ‘During the Norian age the fortunes of the many types of Carnian terrestrial herbivores seem to have declined.’
      • ‘They probably subsisted on insects and other small terrestrial invertebrates and perhaps even on small vertebrates.’
      • ‘Large terrestrial scorpions would be among the top predators.’
    4. 1.4 (of a plant) growing on land or in the soil; not aquatic or epiphytic.
      • ‘Both the water ferns and Ceratopteris occur in clades with terrestrial ferns and the aquatic habit appears to be derived in these lineages.’
      • ‘Ranunculus repens is a terrestrial plant that thrives in damp habitats.’
      • ‘Recurrent natural disturbances and abiotic stress factors are integral components of many terrestrial plant communities.’
      • ‘Within these plots we recorded all plant species observed, including terrestrial lichens.’
      • ‘The vegetation consists of succulent plants, cacti and terrestrial bromeliads, with thorny trees and bushes hitched to a sandy soil.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The cuticle of terrestrial vascular plants and some bryophytes is covered with a complex mixture of lipids, usually called epicuticular waxes.’
      • ‘Ananas is a terrestrial genus, but it grows continuously, whereas most terrestrial orchids have distinct active and dormant phases.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In fact, compared to the 77,710 species of terrestrial fungi, only 498 marine species were recognized as of 1986.’
      • ‘Up until now more than 30,000 macrofossils have been excavated, all of which document a highly diverse terrestrial flora and fauna.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lady slippers and some kinds of cymbidium are terrestrial orchids.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Global climate change and its impacts on terrestrial vegetation are of major international concern at present.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In a terrestrial plant, the slightly alkaline cytoplasm of a typical cell is sandwiched between the acidic apoplast and the likewise acidic vacuole.’
    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.
      • ‘Moving beyond the Earth to the other terrestrial planets, we find that the rocks there are also dominantly silicates.’
      • ‘Scientists see Titan as a complex world, closer to a terrestrial planet than a moon typical of the outer planetary systems.’
      • ‘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.’
    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
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  • An inhabitant of the earth.

    • ‘Now it had become a reality in a queer way, but what a letdown it was, dreaming of the celestial and getting the terrestrial.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘That is certainly plausible enough, but is he really the man to lecture us terrestrials on the distinction between ‘science’ and ‘fantasy’?’
    • ‘Yogic meditation allowed Vedic sages to see in their minds' eyes, the likenesses, homologies and equivalences between the cosmic, the terrestrial and the spiritual.’


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