[ tuhn-druh, toon- ]
/ ˈtʌn drə, ˈtʊn- /
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one of the vast, nearly level, treeless plains of the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.


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Origin of tundra

First recorded in 1840–45; from Russian túndra, from Sami tundar “hill”; compare Kola Sami tūndar “flat elevated area”; akin to Finnish tunturi “Arctic hill”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use tundra in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tundra

/ (ˈtʌndrə) /

  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

Scientific definitions for tundra

[ tŭndrə ]

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.

Cultural definitions for tundra


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

notes for tundra

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

notes for tundra

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.