AskDefine | Define terrain

Dictionary Definition

terrain n : a piece of ground having specific characteristics or military potential; "they decided to attack across the rocky terrain"

User Contributed Dictionary

see Terrain



From terrain.



  1. A single, distinctive rock formation; an area having a preponderance of a particular rock or group of rocks.
  2. An area of land or the particular features of it.





From terranum, from terrenum.



fr-noun m terrain
  1. ground, landscape, terrain
    Un nouveau de terrain de football a été aménagé l'an dernier.

Extensive Definition

Terrain, or relief, is the third or vertical dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used. Topography has recently become an additional synonym, though in many parts of the world it retains its original more general meaning of description of place.
Terrain is used as a general term in physical geography, referring to the lie of the land. This is usually expressed in terms of the elevation, slope, and orientation of terrain features. Terrain affects surface water flow and distribution. Over a large area, it can affect weather and climate patterns.

Importance of terrain

The understanding of terrain is critical for a number of reasons.
  • The terrain of a region largely determines its suitability for human settlement: flatter, alluvial plains tend to be better farming soils than steeper, rockier uplands.
  • Understanding terrain also supports on soil conservation, especially in agriculture. Contour plowing is an established practice enabling sustainable agriculture on sloping land; it is the practice of plowing along lines of equal elevation instead of up and down a slope.
  • Terrain is militarily critical because it determines the ability of armed forces to take and hold areas, and to move troops and material into and through areas. An understanding of terrain is basic to both defensive and offensive strategy.
  • Terrain is important in determining weather patterns. Two areas close to each other geographically may differ radically in precipitation levels or timing because of elevation differences or a "rain shadow" effect.


Geomorphology is in large part the study of the formation of terrain or topography. Terrain is formed by intersecting processes:
Tectonic processes such as orogenies cause land to be elevated, and erosional (and weathering) processes cause land to be worn away to lower elevations.
Land surface parameters are quantitative measures of various morphometric properties of a surface. The most common examples are used to derive slope or aspect of a terrain or curvatures at each location. These measures can also be used to derive hydrological parameters that reflect flow/erosion processes. Climatic parameters are based on the modelling of solar radiation or air flow.
Land surface objects or landforms are definite physical objects (lines, points, areas) that differ from the surrounding objects. The most typical examples are lines of watersheds, stream patterns, ridges, break-lines, pools, borders of specific landforms etc.
terrain in Asturian: Relieve terrestre
terrain in German: Relief (Geologie)
terrain in Spanish: Relieve terrestre
terrain in Esperanto: Tereno
terrain in Galician: Relevo terrestre
terrain in Georgian: რელიეფი
terrain in Lithuanian: Reljefas
terrain in Hungarian: Domborzat
terrain in Polish: Rzeźba terenu
terrain in Portuguese: Relevo (geografia)
terrain in Simple English: Terrain
terrain in Swedish: Terräng
terrain in Ukrainian: Рельєф географічний

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Lebensraum, acres, agora, air space, airspace, alluvion, alluvium, amphitheater, arable land, area, arena, athletic field, auditorium, back country, background, bailiwick, bear garden, belt, bowl, boxing ring, bull ring, campus, canvas, champaign, circus, clay, clear space, clearance, clearing, clod, cockpit, coliseum, colosseum, confines, continental shelf, contour, corridor, country, course, crust, demesne, department, desert, dirt, distant prospect, district, division, domain, dominion, dry land, dust, earth, empty view, environs, field, floor, form, forum, freehold, glade, glebe, grassland, ground, gym, gymnasium, hall, heartland, hinterland, hippodrome, land, landholdings, landscape, lists, lithosphere, living space, locale, marginal land, marketplace, marl, mat, milieu, mold, neighborhood, offshore rights, open country, open forum, open space, outback, palaestra, parade ground, part, parts, pit, place, plain, platform, prairie, precinct, precincts, premises, prize ring, profile, province, public square, purlieu, purlieus, quarter, range, real estate, real property, region, regolith, ring, salient, scene, scene of action, scenery, section, setting, shape, site, sod, soil, space, sphere, squared circle, stadium, stage, stage set, stage setting, steppe, subaerial deposit, subsoil, terra, terra firma, territory, the country, theater, three-mile limit, tilting ground, tiltyard, topography, topsoil, turf, twelve-mile limit, vicinage, vicinity, walk, wide-open spaces, wilderness, woodland, wrestling ring, zone
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1