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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for terrain

Contemporary Examples of terrain

Historical Examples of terrain

  • There came a new swaying that was not the roughness of the terrain.


    Charles Louis Fontenay

  • Jan, his head just above ground level, surveyed the terrain.


    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.

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

    Skylark Three

    Edward Elmer Smith

British Dictionary definitions for terrain



ground or a piece of ground, esp with reference to its physical character or military potentialradio reception can be difficult in mountainous terrain; a rocky terrain
a variant spelling of terrane

Word Origin for terrain

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

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