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[tuh-reyn] /təˈreɪn/
a tract of land, especially as considered with reference to its natural features, military advantages, etc.
Geology. terrane.
Origin of terrain
1720-30; < FrenchVulgar Latin *terrānum, noun use of neuter of *terrānus of land. See terra, -an Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for terrain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Pink gave a high leap, surveyed the terrain as he floated down.

    The Giants From Outer Space Geoff St. Reynard
  • The man with the lantern walked straight to the point of the terrain.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • Cannon for permanent fortifications were of various sizes and calibers, depending upon the terrain that had to be defended.

  • For a few minutes there was silence, as Seaton studied the terrain beneath them.

    Skylark Three Edward Elmer Smith
  • Trails do not disappear entirely, not when the terrain remains the same, not when the weather is unchanged.

    The World That Couldn't Be Clifford Donald Simak
British Dictionary definitions for terrain


/təˈreɪn; ˈtɛreɪn/
ground or a piece of ground, esp with reference to its physical character or military potential: radio reception can be difficult in mountainous terrain, a rocky terrain
a variant spelling of terrane
Word Origin
C18: from French, ultimately from Latin terrēnum ground, from terra earth
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for terrain

1727, "ground for training horses," from French terrain "piece of earth, ground, land," from Old French (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *terranum, from Latin terrenum "land, ground," from neuter of terrenus "of earth, earthly," from terra "earth, land," literally "dry land" (as opposed to "sea"); from PIE root *ters- "to dry" (cf. Sanskrit tarsayati "dries up," Avestan tarshu- "dry, solid," Greek teresesthai "to become or be dry," Latin torrere "dry up, parch," Gothic þaursus "dry, barren," Old High German thurri, German dürr, Old English þyrre "dry;" Old English þurstig "thirsty"). Meaning "tract of country, considered with regard to its natural features" first attested 1766.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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