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See also: Tellurian



From Latin tellūs (earth, ground; the globe, planet Earth; country, land), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *telh₂- (ground, bottom), +‎ -ian (suffix meaning "from, related to, or like" when forming an adjective, or "one from, belonging to, relating to, or like" when forming a noun).[1][2]



tellurian (not comparable)

  1. (formal or literary) Of or relating to the earth; (specifically, chiefly science fiction) inhabiting planet Earth as opposed to other planets. [from mid 19th c.]
    Synonyms: earthly, telluric, terrene, terrestrial
    • 1836, James Cowles Prichard, “Notes on the Contents of the First Book”, in Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, volume I, 3rd edition, London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, []; and J. and A. Arch, [], OCLC 7391859133, book I (On the Origin and Dispersion of Organized Beings: []), page 97:
      It certainly appears difficult to reconcile with known facts the opinion maintained by [Carl] Linnæus and by [Thomas] Pennant, which is, indeed, a very prevalent one, that all the tribes of tellurian animals now existing have descended from a stock that was preserved in the ark of Noah.
    • 1836, [Constantine Samuel Rafinesque], “XIX. Women and Children.”, in The World, or Instability. A Poem. In Twenty Parts, [], Philadelphia, Pa.; London: Published by J. Dobson, []; London: O. Rich, OCLC 669323578, page 206:
      Of peaceful mutual Love, the whole mankind / Shall feel the happy power; joyful scenes / Of earthly bliss, tellurian happiness.
    • 1846, Emanuel Swedenborg, “On the Causes of the Magnetic Declination”, in Augustus Clissold, transl., The Principia; or, The First Principles of Natural Things, being New Attempts toward a Philosophical Explanation of the Elementary World. [...] Translated from the Latin, London: W. Newbery, []; H. Baillière, []; Boston, Mass.: Otis Clapp, [], OCLC 863755, paragraph 6, page 147:
      But both from experiment and from our first principles, which remain to be more especially explained in our theory of the tellurian vortex, it is evident, that the north magnetic pole moves round the north tellurian pole, sooner than the south magnetic pole moves round the south tellurian; and this is because the distance of the two from the centre of the vortex is not similar, and because also of the spiral contorsion of the vortex.
    • 1970, C[live] S[taples] Lewis, Walter Hooper, editor, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, →ISBN:
      For entrophy is the real cosmic wave, and evolution only a momentary tellurian ripple within it. On these grounds, then, I submit that we Christians have as little to fear as anyone from the knowledge actually acquired.
    • 1983, Burr Cartwright Brundage, “The Goddesses”, in The Fifth Sun: Aztec Gods, Aztec World (The Texas Pan American Series), Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, →ISBN, pages 165–166:
      The myth therefore records the full gamut of creation, of both gods and men, and is plainly a priestly document. It treats authority as being ultimately celestial, and it dispenses with the concept of the Mother as tellurian and conditioned by the earthly element.
  2. (mineralogy) Of a mineral: containing tellurium.
    • 1986, Katsuo Kase, “Tellurian Tennantite from the Besshi-type Deposits in the Sambagawa Metamorphic Belt, Japan”, in The Canadian Mineralogist, volume 24, number 2, page 400, column 1:
      The tellurian mineral from Goldfield, Nevada, described originally as goldfieldite by Ransome (1909), was proven to be tellurian tennantite by X-ray powder diffraction (Thompson 1946).

Related terms[edit]



A tellurian or tellurion (noun sense 1) made in 1766 by Benjamin Martin, an English lecturer, lexicographer, and maker of scientific instruments[n 1]

tellurian (plural tellurians)

  1. (astronomy, historical) Alternative spelling of tellurion (instrument used to show how the rotation of the Earth on its axis and its orbit around the Sun cause day and night and the seasons)
    • 1771, Benjamin Martin, “Of the Tellurian”, in The Description and Use of an Orrery of a New Construction, Representing in the Various Parts of Its Machinery All the Motions and Phoenomena of the Planetary System; [], London: Printed for, and sold by the author, [], OCLC 1051529453, page 4:
      The Second Part of this Orrery I call a Tellurian, [...] becauſe it ſhews moſt accurately and evidently all the Phœnomena ariſing from the Annual and Diurnal Motions of the Earth, in a Terreſtrial Globe full Three Inches in a Diameter; upon which all the Parts of the terraqueous Surface are diſtinctly delineated, [...]
    • 1823, Edward Nares, “A View of the State of Arts, Sciences, Religion, Laws, Government, &c.”, in [Alexander Fraser Tytler]; Thomas Robbins, Tytler’s Elements of General History, Ancient and Modern. [] To which is now Added, A View of the State of Arts, Sciences, Religion, Laws, Government, &c. by the Rev. Edward Nares, D.D. [], Hartford, Conn.: Published by Huntington & Hopkins, OCLC 950941156, page 381:
      Among the modern inventions appertaining to astronomy, besides the instruments necessary to correct observation, we may reckon those curious and elegant machines, exhibiting the motions and phenomena of our solar system and its several parts; our orreries, planetariums, tellurians, lunariums, &c., all of which may be considered as extremely interesting and ingenious contrivances.
  2. (chiefly science fiction) Alternative letter-case form of Tellurian (inhabitant of the planet Earth)
    • [1833, Samuel Hanson Cox, Quakerism Not Christianity: Or, Reasons from Renouncing the Doctrine of Friends. In Three Parts, Boston, Mass.: Printed by D. Fanshaw; sold by Jonathan Leavitt, []; and Crocker & Brewster, [], OCLC 919533776, part first, pages 166–167:
      Friends are not alone in this magnanimity, that likes truth only when it suits them. But among all tellurians or lunarians of my acquaintance, they are distinguished for liking those like them, and liking no others.]
    • 1935 May, Joseph William Skidmore, “A Saga of Posi and Nega”, in T[homas] O’Conor Sloane, editor, Amazing Stories, volume 10, New York, N.Y.: Teck Publishing Corporation, OCLC 988016180, page 107:
      But it's well that that bunch of tellurians are dead! Our diamond was the cause of that much good for the earth!" Nega slowed her orbital speed, oscillated a bit, and twinkled: "Are all tellurians like those we've met in the last year?"



  1. ^ tellurian, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2015
  2. ^ tellurian, adj. and n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]