[ soil ]
/ sɔɪl /


the portion of the earth's surface consisting of disintegrated rock and humus.
a particular kind of earth: sandy soil.
the ground as producing vegetation or as cultivated for its crops: fertile soil.
a country, land, or region: an act committed on American soil.
the ground or earth: tilling the soil.
any place or condition providing the opportunity for growth or development: Some believe that poverty provides the soil for crime.



This teacher-developed 5th grade word list covers all the basics to prepare students for middle school.
Question 1 of 10

Origin of soil

1300–50; Middle English soile < Anglo-French soyl < Latin solium seat, confused with solum ground


soil·less, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for soilless

  • Passed over a very bleak, treeless, barren waste of mountain and moorland, most of it too rocky or soilless for even heather.

  • She clung to him; she writhed around him; she kissed with her soilless lips the base dust at his feet.

British Dictionary definitions for soilless (1 of 3)

/ (sɔɪl) /


the top layer of the land surface of the earth that is composed of disintegrated rock particles, humus, water, and airSee zonal soil, azonal soil, intrazonal soil, horizon (def. 4), horizon (def. 5) Related adjective: telluric
a type of this material having specific characteristicsloamy soil
land, country, or regionone's native soil
the soil life and work on a farm; landhe belonged to the soil, as his forefathers had
any place or thing encouraging growth or development

Word Origin for soil

C14: from Anglo-Norman, from Latin solium a seat, but confused with Latin solum the ground

British Dictionary definitions for soilless (2 of 3)

/ (sɔɪl) /


to make or become dirty or stained
(tr) to pollute with sin or disgrace; sully; defilehe soiled the family honour by his cowardice


the state or result of soiling
refuse, manure, or excrement

Word Origin for soil

C13: from Old French soillier to defile, from soil pigsty, probably from Latin sūs a swine

British Dictionary definitions for soilless (3 of 3)

/ (sɔɪl) /


(tr) to feed (livestock) freshly cut green fodder either to fatten or purge them

Word Origin for soil

C17: perhaps from obsolete vb (C16) soil to manure, from soil ² (n)
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

Scientific definitions for soilless

[ soil ]

The loose top layer of the Earth's surface, consisting of rock and mineral particles mixed with decayed organic matter (humus), and capable of retaining water, providing nutrients for plants, and supporting a wide range of biotic communities. Soil is formed by a combination of depositional, chemical, and biological processes and plays an important role in the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles. Soil types vary widely from one region to another, depending on the type of bedrock they overlie and the climate in which they form. In wet and humid regions, for example, soils tend to be thicker than they do in dry regions. See more at A horizon B horizon C horizon. See illustration at ABC soil.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for soilless


Material on the surface of the Earth on which plants can grow. (See topsoil.)

notes for soil

Soil is produced by the weathering of rocks.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.