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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for terrain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There came a new swaying that was not the roughness of the terrain.

    Wind Charles Louis Fontenay
  • Jan, his head just above ground level, surveyed the terrain.

    Wind Charles Louis Fontenay
  • Where the terrain was level enough, hundreds of jack rabbits were seen.

    David Lannarck, Midget George S. Harney
  • The man with the lantern walked straight to the point of the terrain.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • For a few minutes there was silence, as Seaton studied the terrain beneath them.

    Skylark Three Edward Elmer Smith
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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