[tuhn-druh, too n-]


one of the vast, nearly level, treeless plains of the arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Origin of tundra

1835–45; < Russian túndra < Lappish; compare Kola Lappish tūndar flat elevated area
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for tundra

wasteland, prairie, steppe, expanse, field, plateau, flat, flatland

Examples from the Web for tundra

Contemporary Examples of tundra

Historical Examples of tundra

British Dictionary definitions for tundra



  1. a vast treeless zone lying between the ice cap and the timberline of North America and Eurasia and having a permanently frozen subsoil
  2. (as modifier)tundra vegetation

Word Origin for tundra

C19: from Russian, from Lapp tundar hill; related to Finnish tunturi treeless hill
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 tundra

an Arctic steppe, 1841, from Russian tundra, from Lappish tundar "elevated wasteland."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tundra in Science



A cold, treeless, usually lowland area of far northern regions. The lower strata of soil of tundras are permanently frozen, but in summer the top layer of soil thaws and can support low-growing mosses, lichens, grasses, and small shrubs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

tundra in Culture


A land area near the North Pole where the soil is permanently frozen a few feet underground.


There are no trees on the tundra: the vegetation is primarily lichens and mosses.


Tundra is widespread in Lapland and in the far northern portions of Alaska, Canada, and the Soviet Union.
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.