[ ter-uh-fawrm ]
/ ˈtɛr əˌfɔrm /
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verb (used with object)
to alter the environment of (a celestial body) in order to make capable of supporting terrestrial life forms.
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Origin of terraform

1975–80; terra + form; perhaps taken as v. use of an adj. with -form as second element
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does terraform mean?

Terraform means to change the environment of a planet to make it like Earth or at least make it able to support life like Earth does.

The idea of terraforming a planet (or another celestial body, like a moon) so humans and other life forms could survive there was originally just the stuff of science fiction. However, it is now sometimes the subject of serious scientific consideration, especially the possibility of terraforming Mars for human habitation.

Example: Some theorists think humanity could develop the technology to terraform Mars, but others think it’s simply impossible.

Where does terraform come from?

The first records of terraform come from 1940s science fiction. It is formed from the Latin word terra, meaning “land” or “earth,” and form, effectively meaning “to make into the form of earth.”

The concept of terraforming predates the word. Earlier in the 1900s, science fiction writers and theorists began thinking about the idea of making a new home for humans elsewhere in space, such as Mars, Venus, or the moon. Although the term typically refers to making another planet like Earth, that concept is sometimes reversed in sci-fi. In H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, Martians invade Earth and begin to make it more like Mars.

Today, terraforming is sometimes discussed and studied as a serious possibility, including by organizations like NASA and SpaceX.

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What are some other forms of terraform?

  • terraforming (verb)
  • terraformed (verb, adjective)
  • terraforms (verb)

What are some words that share a root or word element with terraform


What are some words that often get used in discussing terraform?


How is terraform used in real life?

Terraform is typically used in the discussion of whether it would be possible to turn another planet (especially Mars) into a place like Earth. Such discussions are sometimes serious and scientific, and other times they are just for fun.



Try using terraform!

Is terraform used correctly in the following sentence?

In order to terraform this enclosure, we need to temporarily move all the animals to a different zoo.

How to use terraform in a sentence