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From Middle English erthe, from Old English eorþe (earth, ground, soil, dry land), from Proto-Germanic *erþō (earth, ground, soil) (compare West Frisian ierde, Low German Eerd, Dutch aarde, Dutch Low Saxon eerde, German Erde, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian jord), related to *erwô (earth) (compare Old High German ero, perhaps Old Norse jǫrfi), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁er- (compare Ancient Greek *ἔρα (*éra) in ἔραζε (éraze, on the ground), perhaps Tocharian B yare (gravel).

Probably unrelated, and of unknown etymology, is Old Armenian երկիր (erkir, earth). Likewise, the phonologically similar Proto-Semitic *ʾarṣ́- – whence Arabic أَرْض(ʾarḍ), Hebrew אֶרֶץ(ʾereṣ) – is probably not related.


A view of Earth from space

Proper noun[edit]


  1. Our planet, third out from the Sun; see main entry Earth.
    The astronauts saw the earth from the porthole.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The word earth is capitalized to Earth when used in context with other celestial bodies.



Earth or soil (sense 1)

earth (countable and uncountable, plural earths)

  1. (uncountable) Soil.
    This is good earth for growing potatoes.
  2. (uncountable) Any general rock-based material.
    She sighed when the plane's wheels finally touched earth.
  3. The ground, land (as opposed to the sky or sea).
    • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
      Like most human activities, ballooning has sponsored heroes and hucksters and a good deal in between. For every dedicated scientist patiently recording atmospheric pressure and wind speed while shivering at high altitudes, there is a carnival barker with a bevy of pretty girls willing to dangle from a basket or parachute down to earth.
    Birds are of the sky, not of the earth.
  4. (Britain) A connection electrically to the earth ((US) ground); on equipment: a terminal connected in that manner.
  5. The lair (as a hole on the ground) of an animal such as fox.
  6. A region of the planet; a land or country.
  7. Worldly things, as against spiritual ones.
  8. The world of our current life (as opposed to heaven or an afterlife).
  9. The people on the globe.
  10. (archaic) The human body.
  11. (alchemy, philosophy and Taoism) The aforementioned soil- or rock-based material, considered one of the four or five classical elements.
  12. (chemistry, obsolete) Any of certain substances now known to be oxides of metal, which were distinguished by being infusible, and by insolubility in water.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also[edit]


earth (third-person singular simple present earths, present participle earthing, simple past and past participle earthed)

  1. (Britain, transitive) To connect electrically to the earth.
    Synonym: ground
    That noise is because the amplifier is not properly earthed.
  2. (transitive) To bury.
    • (Can we date this quote by Young and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The miser earths his treasure, and the thief, / Watching the mole, half beggars him ere noon.
  3. (transitive) To hide, or cause to hide, in the earth; to chase into a burrow or den.
    • (Can we date this quote by Dryden and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The fox is earthed.
    • 1819, John Mayer, The Sportsman's Directory, or Park and Gamekeeper's Companion:
      This is the time that the horseman are flung out, not having the cry to lead them to the death. When quadruped animals of the venery or hunting kind are at rest, the stag is said to be harboured, the buck lodged, the fox kennelled, the badger earthed, the otter vented or watched, the hare formed, and the rabbit set.
  4. (intransitive) To burrow.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Tickell to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]


Derived terms[edit]