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earth, n.1


α. Old English earð- (Northumbrian, in compounds), Old English earðe (rare), Old English eor- (in compounds, rare), Old English eorþa (rare), Old English eorða (rare), Old English eorðo (Northumbrian), Old English eorðu (Northumbrian), Old English eoð- (in compounds, perhaps transmission error), Old English heorþe (rare), Old English hiorð- (in compounds, rare), Old English iorþe (rare), Old English iorðe (rare), Old English teorðan (transmission error), Old English yorðe (Kentish), Old English (chiefly in compounds)–early Middle English eorð, Old English–early Middle English eorðe, Old English–early Middle English yrðe (Kentish), Old English (rare)–Middle English earþe, Old English (in compounds)–Middle English eorþ, Old English–Middle English eorþe, Old English (rare)–Middle English erðe, Old English (Kentish)–Middle English yrþe, late Old English eoþan (inflected form, probably transmission error), late Old English eoðan (inflected form, probably transmission error), late Old English heorðe, late Old English–early Middle English eorþæ, late Old English–early Middle English eorðæ, late Old English–Middle English eorth- (in compounds), late Old English–Middle English erþe, early Middle English eorthþe, early Middle English eorððe, early Middle English ierðe (south-eastern), early Middle English oerþ, early Middle English oerþe, early Middle English orþ, early Middle English orð, early Middle English orðe, Middle English eærðe, Middle English eerth, Middle English eerthe, Middle English eorȝ (in copy of Old English charter), Middle English eorthe, Middle English erdh, Middle English erh, Middle English erith, Middle English erþ, Middle English erð, Middle English eyrthe, Middle English herdethe, Middle English herþe, Middle English herðe, Middle English herth, Middle English horþe, Middle English horðe, Middle English irthe, Middle English orþe, Middle English urþ, Middle English urth, Middle English urthe, Middle English vrþe, Middle English vrthe, Middle English–1500s erth, Middle English–1500s herthe, Middle English–1600s erthe, Middle English– earth, 1500s–1600s earthe, 1500s heth (London); U.S. regional 1800s 'arth, 1800s uth, 1800s– airth, 1900s– earf (in African-American usage), 1900s– eart (southern, in African-American usage)), 1900s– urf (in African-American usage); English regional 1800s aath (Somerset), 1800s orth, 1800s– arth (northern and midlands), 1800s– ath, 1800s– eath (southern and midlands), 1800s– eth, 1800s– e'th (Yorkshire); Scottish pre-1700 aerth, pre-1700 airth, pre-1700 arth, pre-1700 eirthe, pre-1700 eirtht, pre-1700 erthe, pre-1700 1700s– earth, pre-1700 1800s eirth, pre-1700 1800s erth, 1700s hearth, 1800s e'rt' (Orkney), 1800s orth, 1800s– eart (Shetland), 1800s– ert (Shetland), 1900s– aert (Shetland), 1900s– eart' (Shetland); also Irish English 1700s eart (Wexford), 1700s–1800s eorth (Wexford), 1800s erth (Wexford), 1900s– irth (northern).

β. Old English georð- (rare, in compounds), Old English georþe (rare), Old English–early Middle English georðe (rare), Middle English ȝerþ, Middle English ȝerþe, Middle English ȝerthe, Middle English ȝorthe, Middle English yeorþ (in copy of Old English charter), Middle English yereth, Middle English yerþe, Middle English–1500s yerth, Middle English–1500s yerthe, 1500s yarthe, 1500s yeareth, 1500s yearthe, 1500s–1700s yearth; U.S. regional 1800s yeath, 1800s yea'th, 1800s yeth, 1800s– yarth, 1800s– yearth, 1900s– yairth, 1900s– yearf (in African-American usage), 1900s– ye't, 1900s– ye'th, 1900s– yut, 1900s– yu't, 1900s– yu'th; English regional 1800s yar (Yorkshire), 1800s– yarth, 1800s– yath (Yorkshire), 1800s– yearth (northern and midlands), 1800s– yeath (south-western), 1800s– yerth, 1800s– yeth, 1800s– yirth, 1800s– yurth (Cumberland), 1800s– yuth (Worcestershire); Scottish 1700s– yirth, 1800s yearth, 1800s yeith, 1800s yerth; also Irish English 1900s– yirth (northern); N.E.D. (1891) also records a form late Middle English yorth.

γ. Old English–early Middle English eord- (in compounds), Old English (Anglian)–early Middle English eorde, late Old English eordæ, Middle English erde, Middle English ertd, Middle English herd, Middle English hurde, Middle English 1600s erd; English regional (northern) 1700s– eard, 1800s– erd, 1800s– hard (Yorkshire); Scottish pre-1700 aird, pre-1700 earde, pre-1700 erde, pre-1700 erid, pre-1700 eyrd, pre-1700 eyrde, pre-1700 1700s–1800s eird, pre-1700 1700s– eard, pre-1700 1700s– erd, 1700s e'rd; also Irish English (Wexford) 1700s–1800s eard, 1700s–1800s eord.

See also yird n.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: A word inherited from Germanic.
Etymology: Cognate with Old Frisian irthe  , erthe  , ērde  , Old Dutch ertha   (Middle Dutch aerde  , erde  , Dutch aarde  ), Old Saxon erða   (Middle Low German ērde  ), Old High German erda   (Middle High German erde  , German Erde  ), Old Icelandic jǫrð  , Old Swedish iordh   (Swedish jord  ), early modern Danish iorth   (Danish jord  ), Gothic airþa   < an extended form (t  -extension) of the Indo-European base of Old High German ero   earth, ancient Greek ἔρα-   (in ἔραζε   to earth, towards the earth, in Hellenistic Greek also ‘on the ground’), and also (with different extension) Old Icelandic jǫrvi   sandbank, Welsh erw   unit of land measurement (see erw n.).
In Old English usually a weak feminine (eorðe  ); however, apparent weak masculine (eorða  ) and strong masculine and feminine (eorð  ) by-forms are very occasionally attested (although the evidence is far from conclusive). The Northumbrian forms eorðo  , eorðu   apparently show levelling from oblique cases rather than influence of the strong feminine (ō  -stem) declension (compare A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram. (1959) §617).
The β. forms   show the development of a palatal on-glide. (Old English (Kentish) forms in yo-  , e.g. yorðe at α. forms, instead show variation of io-  .) Some regional forms (both α.   and β. ) show replacement of /θ/ by /t/ or /f/. The γ. forms   apparently arose by semantic association or confusion with erd n., already evident in Old English; such forms are particularly common in northern English and Scots, probably influenced by widespread interchange of /d/ and /ð/ in the vicinity of /r/ in these areas.
In early use often translating and in some cases (e.g. sense 12) perhaps after classical Latin terra the planet earth, its surface and its inhabitants, ground, soil, dry land, territory, the element earth, earth as a chemical or medicinal substance, etc. (see terra n.); compare also Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French, French terre   (see terre n.), with a range of senses similar to Latin terra  .
In sense 15   originally after classical Latin terra, itself in this sense after ancient Greek γῆ   (see geo- comb. form); compare Anglo-Norman and Old French terre   (mid 12th cent. in this sense). In recent use also occasionally after the words for the equivalent element in other cosmologies, e.g. Chinese , Sanskrit pṛthvī.
With sense 13c   compare earlier earthed adj. 2.
Attested early in place names (chiefly in sense 13), as Herdicote  , Gloucestershire (1086; now Gaunts Earthcott), Gereburg  , Lincolnshire (1086; now Yarborough), etc.; earlier currency of sense 5   is implied by the place name Focsearde, Essex (1086; now Foxearth).
 I. Senses relating to the ground.

 1. The ground considered simply as a surface on which human beings, animals, and things associated with them rest or move.

OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) iv. 211   Iohannes..astrehte his lichoman to eorðan on langsumum gebede.
OE   Beowulf (2008) 1532   Wearp ða wundelmæl [read wundenmæl]..þæt hit on eorðan læg, stið ond stylecg.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 8074   Forr he [sc. Herod] warrþ seoc. & he bigann To rotenn bufenn eorþe.
c1300   Evangelie (Dulwich Coll.) 106 in Publ. Mod. Lang. Assoc. Amer. (1915) 30 551 (MED)   [Þ]e neddre..ne may on herþe glide.
c1450  (c1400)    Emaré (1908) l. 285 (MED)   He felle down in sowenynge, To þe yrþe was he dyght.
1487  (a1380)    J. Barbour Bruce (St. John's Cambr.) iv. 284   The Kyng..Wes laid at Erd.
c1540  (?a1400)    Gest Historiale Destr. Troy (2002) f. 105v   Sum wondit full wide walt to þe grounde Sum hurlit to þe hard yerth.
1593   T. Nashe Christs Teares f. 75   So typtoe-nyce in treading on the earth, as though they walkt vpon Snakes.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Winter's Tale (1623) v. i. 198   They kneele, they kisse the Earth .  View more context for this quotation
1691   J. Evelyn Kalendarium Hortense (ed. 8) 23   Let your Gard'ner endeavour to apply the Collateral Branches of his Wall Fruits..to the Earth or Borders.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word)   Reptile is likewise used, abusively, for Plants and Fruits which creep on the Earth, or on other Plants.
1764   J. Boswell Grand Tour 1 Oct. (1953) 117   While I drove by in my coach, the people bowed to the earth.
1847   Ld. Tennyson Princess v. 118   Part roll'd on the earth and rose again.
1886   R. L. Stevenson Strange Case Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde iv. 37   Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth.
1928   D. H. Lawrence Woman who rode Away & Other Stories 51   He looked a long time down at the earth, then glanced up at her with a touch of supplication in his uneasy eyes.
1995   Herald (Glasgow) (Nexis) 20 Feb. 7   I worship the very earth that this team walks on.

OE—1995(Hide quotations)


 2. The ground considered as a solid stratum.

OE   Judgement Day II 99   Eall eorðe bifað, eac swa þa duna dreosað and hreosað.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) anno 1100   To þam Pentecosten wæs gesewen..æt anan tune blod weallan of eorþan.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 13884   Þa eorðe [c1300 Otho earþe] gon beouien.
c1300   St. Mary of Egypt (Laud) 316 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 270 (MED)   Þe eorþe was hard, and he was old, and none spade he nadde.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Trin. Cambr.) l. 16784   Þe day wex derker þen þe nyȝt: þe erþe quook wiþ alle.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 4699   Þe erth it clang, for drught and hete.
1562   W. Bullein Bk. Simples f. 57, in Bulwarke of Defence   The people..are constrained to inhabite in Caves, under the yearth.
1567   J. Maplet Greene Forest f. 8v   Of Gemmes, some are found in the earthes vaines, & are digged vp with Metalles.
1603   P. Holland tr. Plutarch Morals 1190   The casting up aloft into the aire of stones & cinders by subterranean windes under the earth.
1694   Narbrough's Acct. Several Late Voy. 46   They lie in Veins in the Earth, and in the firm Rocks.
1701   tr. N. Andry Acct. Breeding Worms in Human Bodies iii. 32   They..were seized with an Epidemical Distemper, inspiring them with such fury, that they fell a digging the Earth.
1791   W. Cowper tr. Homer Iliad in Iliad & Odyssey I. iii. 339   Who under earth on human kind avenge Severe, the guilt of violated oaths.
1839   Z. Leonard Narr. Adventures 73/2   An oil spring, rising out of the earth.
1863   A. P. Stanley Lect. Jewish Church I. viii. 185   ‘The well’, the deep cavity sunk in the earth by the art of man.
1865   Frost & Fire II. 182   Them is what we call marble stones; they grow in the yearth.
1938   R. Hum Chem. for Engin. Students xxvi. 711   Asphalt, or mineral pitch, is considered to be the residue from the natural evaporation of petroleum, which has escaped from the earth.
1974   L. Murray Coll. Poems (1991) 110   Out here, the trees Grow coolly under the earth.
1991   Which? Apr. 188/2   Groundwater is produced by rainwater percolating down through the earth.

OE—1991(Hide quotations)


 3. The soil as suitable for cultivation. Also with modifying word, indicating the nature or quality of the soil.

OE (Northumbrian)   Lindisf. Gospels: Luke xiii. 7   Succidite ergo illam ut quid etiam terram occupat : hrendas uel scearfað forðon ðailca uel hia to huon uutedlice eorðo gionetað uel gemerras.
OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 2nd Ser. (Cambr. Gg.3.28) vi. 56   Se dæl þæs sædes ðe on godre eorðan befeol, þæt sind ða ðe godes word on godre heortan healdað, and bringað wæstm on geðylde.
a1200  (?OE)    MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 155   Sum [of þe sed] ful on þe gode eorðe and þat com wel forð.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Fairf. 14) l. 27268   Tilmen..better þaire awen erþ tilis.
▸ ?1440   tr. Palladius De re Rustica (Duke Humfrey) (1896) i. l. 81   The bittrist erthe and werst that thou canst thynke.
?1523   J. Fitzherbert Bk. Husbandry f. viiiv   To plow his barley erth.
1557   in G. J. Piccope Lancs. & Cheshire Wills (1857) I. 143   On close lyeinge nerest unto James Bailies called the merled earthe.
1607   G. Markham Cavelarice iii. 28   When you finde the chace to runne ouer anye faire earth, as either ouer More, Medowe, Heath [etc.] al which my Countrie men of the north call skelping earthes.
1693   J. Dryden tr. Ovid Metamorphoses i, in Examen Poeticum 6   The teeming Earth, yet guiltless of the Plough, And unprovok'd, did fruitful Stores allow.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl. at Earth   By Means of Sand it is, that the fatty Earth is render'd fertile.
1771   E. Burke Let. in Corr. (1960) II. 248   The great general Objection of Farmers against ploughing up the dead Earth.
1821   A. Wheeler Westmorland Dial. (ed. 3) 71   They racken his earth is as gud as onny ith parrish.
1892   W. Cather Lou, the Prophet in Hesperian 15 Oct. 7/1   In this new land their plow runs across the field tearing up the fresh, warm earth, with never a stone to stay its course.
1929   H. A. A. Nicholls & J. H. Holland Text-bk. Trop. Agric. (ed. 2) i. iii. 25   Tillage operations, which expose the under layers of the soil to the air and the sun, render the earth more fertile.
1972   J. Mandelkau Harmony Farm iv. 52   Kelly did his best to become an enthusiastic farmer. He read all the books and worked on the earth through every straining day from sunrise to sunset.
2007   Sci. Amer. (U.K. ed.) Sept. 81/2   No-till farming, in which farmers leave crop residues in place instead of tilling them into the earth.

OE—2007(Hide quotations)


 4. The ground considered as a place for burying the dead. In early use frequently in to bring (a person) to (the) earth : to bury (a person); now archaic. Cf. above earth at above adv., prep., n., and adj. Phrases 1.

eOE   tr. Orosius Hist. (BL Add.) (1980) ii. vi. 49   Æt nihstan ða þe þær to lafe beon moston wæron to ðæm meðie þæt hie ne mehton þa gefarenan to eorþan bringan.
OE   Regularis Concordia (Tiber.) (1993) lxvi. 139   Donec..corpus terre commendetur : þæt..þæt lic eorþan beo betæht.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 6131   He shall shrifenn þe..& brinngenn þe till eorþe.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 2137   To-gadere come his eorles & brohten hine to eorðe [c1300 Otho erþe].
c1300   St. Edmund Rich (Harl.) l. 598 in C. D'Evelyn & A. J. Mill S. Eng. Legendary (1956) 511   Ded he com iwis & þer he was ibroȝt an vrþe.
1387   in F. J. Furnivall Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (1882) 2   Y be-quethe iii.li to bringe me on erthe.
?1457   J. Hardyng Chron. (Lansd.:Hammond) 235   Kynge Rycharde..at langley leyde in erthe.
1541   in S. Tymms Wills & Inventories Bury St. Edmunds (1850) 261   [William Clovyer, of Chelsworth, charged his wife] to brynge me vnto the herthe honestly accordynge to my value.
1541   in S. Tymms Wills & Inventories Bury St. Edmunds (1850) 141   I commytt my body to be buryed in the churche erthe.
a1593   C. Marlowe Edward II (1594) sig. I4v   Euery earth is fit for buriall.
1636   in B. Cusack Everyday Eng. 1500–1700 (1998) 341   First I giue and bequeath my Body to ye yearth & my soule vnto god yt gaue it.
1682   Will of Ann Tooker (P.R.O.: PROB. 11/370) f. 294v   My body to the earth without any other ceremony than Rosemary and wine.
1705   T. Greenhill Νεκροκηδεια 5   Nature admonishes us that the spiritless Body should be restored to the Earth.
1785   Life Miss Davis 5   He..was convicted and hanged..and her hemp-sick husband laid in the earth.
1825   C. M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I. 260   A speedy-man by nimbler foe Lies buried in the earth below.
1855   J. E. Cooke Ellie iii. xxi. 562   The body of Lucia was committed to the earth from which it sprung.
1904   J. E. Carpenter First Three Gospels (ed. 3) viii. 350   We shall not expect him to..draw forth from the earth the reanimate forms of the uncounted dead.
1973   J. Gardner tr. Allit. Morte Arthure 113   Go on to Glastonbury with grieving hearts, To bury that boldest of kings and bring him to earth.
2002   I. Knight Don't you want Me? vii. 85   She is buried in the earth, and once again at one with Mother Nature.

eOE—2002(Hide quotations)


 5. As a count noun: an animal's dwelling or hiding place; the hole or lair of a burrowing mammal, esp. a fox or badger. Also figurative. Cf. Phrases 7.

c1450  (?a1400)    Parl. Thre Ages (BL Add. 31042) l. 18   The foxe and the filmarte þay flede to þe erthe.
1575   G. Gascoigne Noble Arte Venerie lxvi. 187   If you..put the Terryer into an earth where Foxes be, or Badgerdes, they will leaue that earth.
1611   R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues   Accul,..the bottome..of a foxes, or badgers earth.
1662   in W. M. Myddelton Chirk Castle Acc. (1908) 9 June I. 160   Paid for ale digginge for yo: foxes att an earth neere mr Hanmer's house of Pentrepant iijs.
1719   D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 309   Frighted Hare fled to Cover, or Fox to Earth.
1781   P. Beckford Thoughts on Hunting xxiii. 304   I also recommend to you, to turn them into large covers and strong earths.
1828   W. Scott Fair Maid of Perth xii, in Chron. Canongate 2nd Ser. I. 311   I am ready to take you to any place of safety you can name..But you cannot persuade me that you do not know what earth to make for.
1839   C. Darwin in R. Fitzroy & C. Darwin Narr. Surv. Voy. H.M.S. Adventure & Beagle III. vi. 131   They were generally near their earths, but the dogs killed one.
1857   Zoologist 15 5624   The capture..of that sex [of spider] by Mr. Pickard-Cambridge in a rabbit-earth is very interesting.
1902   Daily Chron. 13 Mar. 8/2   A brace of foxes were next bolted from an artificial earth.
1980   Duke of Beaufort Fox-Hunting xiv. 139   In the places where foxes are likely to run the earths should be ‘put to’ or stopped in the early morning.
2006   Herald Express (Torquay) (Nexis) 21 June 8   Near one of the wildest earths I know on Dartmoor a vixen continues to educate her cubs in the survival business.

c1450—2006(Hide quotations)


 a. The ground as a medium by which an electric circuit is completed or as having zero potential; (hence) electrical connection with the ground. Now usually as a mass noun. Cf. ground n. 15b.The purpose of such a connection may be to serve as a return path for a telegraph current, to provide a route for current that would otherwise pass through a person in the case of a fault, or to protect against damage to electrical equipment by limiting the increase in voltage that can occur in it. An accidental connection to earth may result in leakage of current.

1742   J. T. Desaguliers Diss. Electr. 25   If the least flaxen Thread falls..so as to touch the Ground, the Electricity..is lost upon the Ground or the Earth.
1756   R. Lovett Subtil Medium Prov'd ii. 56   His Electricity never passes out of the Earth directly to the Gun-barrel or Wires, but from the Earth to the prime electrical Globe or Tube only.
1760   Philos. Trans. 1759 (Royal Soc.) 51 312   An electric current, setting in from the glass of the electrifying machine, and passing along the tube through the quicksilver and vacuum, and so to the earth.
1773   H. Cavendish Jrnl. 9 Feb. in Electr. Res. (1879) 267   It was suspected that this increase of separation of the balls before they closed was owing to the wire designed to carry off the el[ectricity] to earth not conducting fast enough.
1829   T. Exley Princ. Nat. Philos. vii. 187   The redundancy of fluid delivered to the rubber is also discharged by means of its connection with the earth.
1850   Jrnl. Franklin Inst. 50 62   The current may thus reach the earth by two ways which are alternately opened and closed.
1876   W. H. Preece & J. Sivewright Telegraphy 243   Earths are indicated by an increase in the strength of the current at the sending end.
1901   L. M. Waterhouse Conduit Wiring 17   When the cables are pulled through, the braiding (and perhaps the rubber) is torn off and the result is a bad ‘earth’ at some future time.
1936   E. A. Atkins & A. G. Walker Electr. Arc & Oxy-acetylene Welding (ed. 3) 375 (in figure)    All metal casings of apparatus and instruments..must be connected to earth or to a water main.
1943   Triumphs of Engin. 73/2   Slinging the cable from the towers needed elaborate detail insulation work, for current at high pressures will otherwise leak away through the towers to earth.
2002   R. D. Treloar Plumbing: Heating & Gas Installations (ed. 2) vi. 258   Discharge a spark across the gap between two electrodes, or one electrode passing to earth.

1742—2002(Hide quotations)


 b. A terminal to which a connection to earth should be made; a conductor kept at, or regarded as being at, zero potential.

1857   H. M. Noad Man. Electr. II. (ed. 4) ii. xx. 774   A circuit of 40 miles earth and 40 miles wire presented the same resistance as a circuit of 40 miles wire.
1866   R. M. Ferguson Electricity 250   An ‘earth’, however, is generally put at each station.
1896   T. E. Herbert Electr. in Applic. to Telegr. xvii. 81   B is connected to earth as is the end of our 40 ohm leak.
1966   Buying Secondhand (Consumers' Assoc.) 71   Earth is always green or green/yellow except in German-made appliances where earth is red.
2001   Bristol Evening Post (Nexis) 17 Jan. 5   A wiring diagram embossed on the bottom of the socket could mislead people into connecting the live lead to earth.

1857—2001(Hide quotations)

 II. Senses relating to the world.

 7. Dry land, as opposed to the sea or other body of water.

OE   Ælfric Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) i. 10   God gecygde ða drignysse eorðan [L. terram] & ðæra wætera gegaderunga he het sæ.
OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxiii. 15   Forþam ge befarað sæ & eorþan [L. aridam].
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 10337   Eȝȝþerr..ȝede upp o þe flumm Alls itt onn eorþe wære.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 116   Ðe ðridde dai..was water and erðe o sunder sad.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 383   Þe watris all he calid þe se. þe drey he calid erd.
a1425  (a1382)    Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Corpus Oxf.) (1850) Gen. i. 10   God clepid the drie, erthe [L. terram]; and the gaderyngis of watris he clepide, sees.
1560   B. Googe tr. ‘M. Palingenius’ Zodyake of Lyfe iii. sig. Gi   That workman first, that made ye skies the earth, and seas also.
1587   Sir P. Sidney & A. Golding tr. P. de Mornay Trewnesse Christian Relig. ii. 16   The Sea and Earth togither are lapped vp in the Ayre.
1612   T. Taylor Αρχὴν Ἁπάντων: Comm. Epist. Paul to Titus iii. 3   The Earth was made for man and beast to liue vpon, the sea for fish and nauigation.
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost vii. 624   The seat of men, Earth with her nether Ocean circumfus'd.  View more context for this quotation
1712   A. Pope Rape of Locke ii, in Misc. Poems 366   Sooner let Earth, Air, Sea, to Chaos fall.
1768   H. Brooke Fool of Quality (Dublin ed.) III. xiv. 54   I have no Road to go upon Earth, no Way upon Sea to navigate.
1825   Times 31 Jan. 3/2   By whom the act was perpetrated..we must be content to leave unknown until the earth and sea shall give up their dead.
1825   J. Wilson Noctes Ambrosianae xix, in Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. Mar. 369   There's sae strong a spirit of life hotchin' ower yearth and sea.
1879   C. Rossetti Seek & Find 24   The sky..overarching and embosoming not earth and sea only, but clouds and meteors, planets and stars.
1907   J. Davidson Triumph of Mammon iv. 99   We form the matter of the furthest star, The matter of the earth, the sea, the sky.
1956   C. Lake & R. Maillard Dict. Mod. Painting 133   Broad horizons where stretches of earth and sea are separated from sky by only a lightly curved, uncertain, extremely fine line.
2008   Scarborough Evening News (Nexis) 14 Feb.   As earth and sea grow warmer they can no longer absorb and dissolve atmospheric CO2 and will begin to emit it instead.

OE—2008(Hide quotations)


 8. Land and sea, as opposed to the sky.

OE   Andreas (1932) 798   Sceoldon hie þam folce gecyðan hwa æt frumsceafte furðum teode eorðan eallgrene ond upheofon.
OE   Genesis A (1931) 113   Her ærest gesceop ece drihten..heofon and eorðan, rodor arærde, and þis rume land gestaþelode strangum mihtum... Folde wæs þa gyta græs ungrene; garsecg þeahte sweart synnihte.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 139 (MED)   Sunnen dei was iseȝan þet formeste liht buuen eorðe.
a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 40   Of nogt Was heuene and erðe samen wrogt.
c1390   Castle of Love (Vernon) (1967) l. 95   God atte begynnynges Hedde imaad heuene wiþ ginne..And þe eorþe þerafter þerwiþ.
a1450   Castle Perseverance (1969) l. 2 (MED)   God..þ[at] heuene & erthe made of nowth, boþe se & londe.
1559   W. Cuningham Cosmogr. Glasse 38   I ever feare lest th' Earth..should fall to the other part of the Heavens.
1597   T. Blundeville Exercises (ed. 2) vii. f. 364   Vpon which two Poles, otherwise called the hookes or hengils of the world, the heauens doe turne rounde about the earth.
a1649   W. Drummond Poems (1656) 153   Like worlds bright Eye, That once each yeare surveyes All earth, and skie.
1698   J. Keill Exam. Theory Earth (1734) 127   What proportion all the Rivers in the Earth bear to the Po.
1723   R. Bundy tr. B. Lamy Apparatus Biblicus iii. v. 446   The rain falls down on the earth from heaven.
1765   L. Abbott Poems Var. Subj. 107   Around the thick'ning Branches shoot and blend, And, spreading wide, o'er all the Earth extend.
1835   J. L. Blake Conversat. on Nat. Philos. xi. 151   Why do clouds descend to the earth in drops of water instead of vapour?
1881   M. E. Braddon Asphodel III. 331   An obelisk..blanking out earth and heaven with its gigantic form.
1942   Jrnl. Amer. Oriental Soc. 62 86/2   This god Tvaṣṭṛ..made not only sky and earth, but many other celebrated objects.
1980   J. Phillips Exploring Genesis i. 41   The supply of water above the earth is maintained by evaporation—the constant lifting of water from the earth into the atmosphere by the power of the sun.
2004   R. Willis & P. Curry Astrol., Sci. & Culture ii. 33   The Dinka people of the southern Sudan suppose that originally earth and sky were connected by a rope.

OE—2004(Hide quotations)


 a. The world considered as the dwelling place of humans. Frequently contrasted with heaven, hell, or some other place of future existence (cf. middle-earth n. 1).heaven on earth and hell on earth: see the first element.

OE   West Saxon Gospels: Matt. (Corpus Cambr.) xxviii. 18   Me is geseald ælc anweald on heofonan & on eorðan [OE Lindisf. in eorðo; L. in terra].
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 47 (MED)   Heo [sc. sunne dei] on eorðe ȝeueð reste to alle eorðe þrelles, wepmen and wifmen, of heore þrel weorkes.
1340   Ayenbite (1866) 8 (MED)   Uor þu sselt libbe þe lenger ine yerþe.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 71   Þat saues me first in herth fra syn, And heuen blys me helps to wyn.
?c1430  (?1382)    J. Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 515   To conquere alle seculer lordship in þis eorþe.
a1450   St. Edith (Faust.) (1883) l. 1850   Shalle not long wt ȝou in urthe a-byde.
c1475  (?c1400)    Apol. Lollard Doctr. (1842) 8   Wat þu byndist vpon ȝerþe it schal be boundoun also in heuin.
a1500   Lancelot of Laik (1870) 128   For in this erith no lady is so fare.
1546   Primer Hen. VIII 74   To whom..In heaven & yerth be laud and praise. Amen.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Julius Caesar (1623) i. iii. 45   Those that haue knowne the Earth so full of faults.  View more context for this quotation
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost ix. 99   O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferrd More justly.  View more context for this quotation
1697   J. Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics iv, in tr. Virgil Wks. 147   Mighty Cæsar..On the glad Earth the Golden Age renews.  View more context for this quotation
1739   A. Nicol Nature without Art 58   In my Life On Earth I'll have no Pleasure; If you deny to be my Wife.
1796   W. Amphlett Triumphs of War 46   Have mankind..yet resolv'd To banish legal murder from the earth?
1813   J. Hogg Queen's Wake ii. xiii. 93   And Kilmeny on earth was never mair seen.
1850   R. C. Trench Parables (ed. 2) Introd. 20   Earth is not a shadow of heaven, but heaven..a dream of earth.
1954   W. R. Trask tr. M. Eliade Myth of Eternal Return i. 12   The sacred city or temple is regarded as the meeting point of heaven, earth, and hell.
1977   G. W. H. Lampe God as Spirit v. 136   The Jesus of the Gospels whom the imagination of the worshipper pictures as pre-existing in heaven and descending to earth.
1999   R. E. Guiley Encycl. Witches & Witchcraft (ed. 2) 331/2   The devarajas, who..are said to be karmic agents during a person's life on earth.

OE—1999(Hide quotations)


 b. The inhabitants of the world collectively.

OE   Lambeth Psalter xcvii. 4   Iubilate deo, omnis terra, cantate et exultate et psallite : freadremað o eala þu eall eorðe singað & fægniaþ & sealmlof cweðaþ.
c1400  (?c1380)    Pearl l. 893   For þay arn boȝt fro þe vrþe [cf. Apoc. 14:4. ex hominibus] aloynte As newe fryt to God ful due.
c1405  (c1395)    G. Chaucer Wife of Bath's Tale (Hengwrt) (2003) Prol. l. 363   Ther ben thynges three The whiche thynges troublen al this erthe.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Psalms xcvi. 9   Let the whole earth stonde in awe of him.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Song Three Children f. lvij   O let the earth speake good of the Lorde.
1611   Bible (King James) Gen. xi. 1   The whole earth was of one language.  View more context for this quotation
1654   E. Wolley tr. ‘G. de Scudéry’ Curia Politiæ 188   The eyes of all the earth observe our motion and superintend our actions.
1721   R. Blackmore New Version Psalms civ. 232   Let all the Earth the Lord adore.
1831   R. Vaughan Memorials Stuart Dynasty II. xii. 10   It is well to see the chains produced to enslave the earth falling thus signally on the hands that wrought them.
1891   E. Arnold Light of World v. 230   Myself, and all the Earth, and thee, Have no grief left, and cannot suffer grief.
1919   M. R. Rinehart Dangerous Days l. 394   This was to be the greatest day in the history of the world, and while all the earth waited for the signal guns, she waited for a man.
2008   Atlantic Free Press (Nexis) 27 Jan.   One day soon, the entire earth will rise-up against this axis of evil.

OE—2008(Hide quotations)


 a. The world on which humankind lives, considered as a sphere, orb, or planet. Cf. globe n. 3a, terra n. 2.Usually with the (or our). In later use frequently with capital initial, esp. when compared or listed with other planets of the solar system (cf. planet n. 3a).Astronomically the earth is the third planet from the sun, orbiting it between Venus and Mars at an average distance of 92.96 million miles (149.6 million km). It is one of the terrestrial planets (see terrestrial adj. 2f). It has approximately the shape of an oblate spheroid, with an equatorial diameter of about 7926 miles (12,756 km) and a polar diameter of about 7900 miles (12,714 km), and is thought to have been formed about 4,600 million years ago.The idea that the earth is a sphere is traditionally ascribed to Parmenides of Elea (fl. early 5th cent. b.c.). It featured in the planetary system of Eudoxus of Cnidos (4th cent b.c.).flat-earth, figure of the earth, Spaceship Earth: see the first element.

OE   Ælfric De Temporibus Anni (Cambr. Gg.3.28) vi. §9. 46   Seo eorðe stent on gelicnysse anre pinnhnyte, & seo sunne glit onbutan be Godes gesetnysse.
c1300   St. Michael (Laud) l. 407 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 311 (MED)   Ase an Appel þe eorþe is round.
a1425  (?a1400)    G. Chaucer Romaunt Rose (Hunterian) (1891) l. 5336   Erthe that bitwixe is sett The sonne and hir [sc. the moon].
a1532   R. Thorne in R. Hakluyt Diuers Voy. (1582) sig. C   Under the which is comprehended al the roundnesse of the earth.
1555   R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde f. 251v   What parts of the baul of the earth remained yet vndiscouered.
1613   M. Ridley Short Treat. Magneticall Bodies 1   The great regent Globes of Saturne, Mars, Jupiter, the Sunne and the Earth.
1640   Bp. J. Wilkins (title)    A discovrse concerning a new planet. Tending to prove, that 'tis probable our earth is one of the planets.
1658   Culpeper's Semeiotica Uranica (ed. 3) 18   The Earth is a great lump of dirt rolled up together, and..hanged in the Air.
1667   J. Milton Paradise Lost viii. 130   And what if sev'nth to these The Planet Earth, so stedfast though she seem, Insensibly three different Motions move?  View more context for this quotation
1715   tr. D. Gregory Elements Astron. I. iii. §9. 403   The place of the Aphelion or Perihelion of the Earth.
1772   W. Jones Poems 16   The round earth with foaming oceans vein'd.
1796   H. Hunter tr. J.-H. B. de Saint-Pierre Stud. Nature (1799) I. Introd. 32   The Earth is lengthened out at the Poles.
1807   T. Young Course Lect. Nat. Philos. I. xlii. 499   The sun..occupies the centre of the system that comprehends our earth, together with a variety of other primary and secondary planets.
1837   W. Whewell Hist. Inductive Sci. II. vii. ii. 131   The aphelia of Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars, slightly progress.
1854   D. Brewster More Worlds ii. 25   Jupiter, a world of huge magnitude, 1320 times greater in bulk than our Earth.
1913   Science 3 Oct. 469/1   All of nature's laws..should be the same on sun, earth or planet in the Milky Way.
1929   Amazing Stories Q. Winter 52/2   For the first time since he left the Earth he became space-sick.
1946   Captain Marvel Adventures Oct. 37/1   It was his duty to cruise the space-lanes between Earth and Mars.
1956   R. Carrington Guide Earth Hist. (1958) iii. 36   We began with a picture of our Earth, infinitely lonely, swimming through the vastness of space.
1988   J. Trefil Dark Side of Universe xiv. 190   The sun will collapse into a white dwarf—a star about the size of the earth.
2000   Independent 24 July i. 3/4   Meteor showers are caused by the earth passing through clouds of space dust.

OE—2000(Hide quotations)


 b. A world resembling or likened to the earth; a habitable planet.

1678   R. Cudworth True Intellect. Syst. Universe i. iv. 381   He affirmed..the Moon [to be] an Earth, having Mountains and Valleys, Cities and Houses in it.
1684   T. Burnet Theory of Earth i. 168   We will consider..the rest of the earths, or of the planets within our heavens.
1787   J. Clowes tr. E. Swedenborg Conc. Earths in Solar Syst. 158 (heading)    Concerning a second earth in the starry heaven, it's spirits and inhabitants.
1841   E. W. Lane tr. Thousand & One Nights I. 23   This is the 1st, or highest, of 7 earths.
1950   Fantasy Bk. No. 6. 48   They master the ships that connect the earths.
1952   C. Oliver in Analog Sci. Fact & Sci. Fiction July 140/1   They were after a planet almost exactly like Earth..another Earth circling a Class G star of exactly the right specifications.
2007   Nature 4 Jan. 10/1   2007 could be the year we find the first truly Earth-like planet... We should have a much better idea of how common alien Earths may be.

1678—2007(Hide quotations)


 c.  [Imitative of a ground controller attempting to contact a spacecraft.] humorous. Earth to (also calling) —— and variants: implying the person addressed is speaking or behaving in an abstracted manner, or is out of touch with reality.

1979   Campus Slang Mar. 3   Earth to ——. Please pay attention.
1983   Atlantic (Nexis) May 91   Oh, Jeez, there she goes. Planet Earth calling Grace Poole!
1989   J. Churchill Grime & Punishment (1992) ix. 75   Earth calling Jane? Are you there?
1993   Independent (Electronic ed.) 22 Aug. 18   It's true his speech is urgent enough to prompt the ‘Planet Earth to Keanu’ tone of most published interviews with him.
2003   Chicago Tribune (Midwest ed.) 21 Mar. ii. 5/2   Their big conflict is she may have to move to New York. Earth to Donna, you're a flight attendant. You can visit, you know, although the thought apparently doesn't come to mind.

1979—2003(Hide quotations)


 11. colloquial. With the and as the object of a verb. A very large amount; everything. Frequently in to cost the earth : to be very expensive.

1882   Richwood (Ohio) Gaz. 25 May   If our Iowa girl poet..can catch on to a fellow once in a while, and does not want the earth, she should cease repining..and be contented as a girl.
1895   Mansfield (Ohio) News 12 June 8/4 (advt.)    Some consignment agents promise the earth to effect a sale.
1924   P. G. Wodehouse Bill the Conqueror vii. 149   ‘Big grey limousine.’ ‘Expensive?’ ‘Looked as if it had cost the earth.’
1958   Engineering 4 Apr. 427/2   The customer has a perfect right to ask for the earth, but the supplier, if he is wise, will not necessarily let him have it.
1961   A. Christie Pale Horse xii. 129   Would it be terribly expensive?.. She'd heard they charged the earth.
1998   What Hi-Fi? May 8/4   With high standards of resolution and whip-crack drive, this Orelle gives you the real deal without costing the Earth.

1882—1998(Hide quotations)

III. Senses relating to a defined portion of land.

 12. A country, land, or territory. Obsolete.

OE (Northumbrian)   Lindisf. Gospels: John iii. 22   Uenit iesus..in iudaeam terram et illic morabatur : cuom se hælend..in iudea eorðu & ðer geuunade.
OE   Genesis A (1931) 1787   Þis is seo eorðe þe ic ælgrene tudre þinum torhte wille..on geweald don, rume rice.
c1300  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Otho) l. 10911   Coel bi-lefde King a þissere erþe [Calig. inne Bruttene].
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 5484 (MED)   Ioseph..first was berid in þat contre, Siþen born til his erth was he.
a1425  (c1384)    Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Corpus Oxf.) (1850) Ezek. xxi. 2   Sone of man..prophecy thou aȝens the erthe [L. humum] of Israel.
a1500  (?a1400)    Sir Torrent of Portyngale (1887) l. 1324   They yaue ser Torent that he wan, Both the Erth and the woman.
1556   W. Lauder Compend. Tractate Dewtie of Kyngis sig. B3   And..ȝe be nocht feird But doute, for to possesse the eird.
a1616   W. Shakespeare King John (1623) ii. i. 344   This hand..That swayes the earth this Climate ouer-lookes.  View more context for this quotation
1628   T. Hobbes tr. Thucydides Peloponnesian War (1822) 41   The Athenians have the spirit not to be slaves to their earth.

OE—1628(Hide quotations)

 IV. Senses relating to a substance.

 a. The material of which the surface of the ground is composed; soil.

OE   tr. Felix St. Guthlac (Vercelli) (1909) iv. 117   Wæs þær in þam sprecenan iglande sum mycel hlæw of eorþan geworht.
OE   Old Eng. Hexateuch: Exod. (Claud.) xx. 24   Ac weorcað weofod of eorðan [L. de terra], & offriað uppan ðam onsægednyssa.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1978) l. 9887   Cnihtes..mid eorðe & mid stanen stepne hul makeden.
c1300   Havelok (Laud) (1868) l. 740 (MED)   Bigan he þere for to erþe, A litel hus to maken of erþe.
a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 27944) (1975) II. xvi. i. 825   Grauel and sonde is more harde in substaunce þanne erþe.
a1400  (a1325)    Cursor Mundi (Vesp.) l. 928   Vnto þat erth þou was of tan.
1447–8   in S. A. Moore Lett. & Papers J. Shillingford (1871) ii. 89 (MED)   Erthe, robill and donge and other fylthis.
a1533   Ld. Berners tr. A. de Guevara Golden Bk. M. Aurelius (1546) sig. C.v   To graue..in erthe, and other sculptures.
1567   J. Maplet Greene Forest f. 69   To eate Flies, and now & then among to eate crummie and dry earth.
1607   R. Parker Scholasticall Disc. against Antichrist i. ii. §31. 107   The Emperour of Æthiopia when he goeth foorth, hath a Crosse carried before him, and an earthen pitcher full of earth.
1664   J. Evelyn Kalendarium Hortense 60 in Sylva   Now is your Season for Circumposition by Tubs or Baskets of Earth.
1708   J. C. Compl. Collier 4 in T. Nourse Mistery of Husbandry Discover'd (ed. 3)    Mould, Sand, Gravil or Clay (all which I call Earth).
1774   O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth VIII. 93   Mason Bees make their cells with a sort of mortar, made of earth.
1803   Gazetteer Scotl. at Blane   Alternate strata of earth and limestone.
1836   C. Thirlwall Hist. Greece II. xiv. 213   The envoys..undertook to give earth and water.
1909   Times 26 Mar. 19/1   The road bed consists of 6in. of one to six concrete laid on rammed earth.
1967   S. Mackay Old Crow i. 10   She had lumps of dry earth in her hair.
2000   J. Connolly Dark Hollow i. Prol. 29   I return to Scarborough and fill in the grave myself, spadefuls of earth carefully falling on the pine casket.

OE—2000(Hide quotations)


 b. Clay used for making pottery.porcelain, pot, tile earth, etc.: see the first element.

a1350   Recipe Painting in Archæol. Jrnl. (1844) 1 65 (MED)   Tac a vessel of eorthe, other of treo.
1463   in S. Tymms Wills & Inventories Bury St. Edmunds (1850) 41   My best gay cuppe of erthe kevvryd.
1526   W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection ii. sig. Svii   He wolde euer be serued in vesselles of erthe.
a1555   J. Philpot tr. C. S. Curione Def. Authority Christ's Church in R. Eden Exam. & Writings J. Philpot (1842) (modernized text) 340   Hath not the pot-maker power to form out of that same clam of earth that one vessel for an honourable use, and that other for contemptuous and vilenous?
1621   H. Ainsworth Annot. Five Bks. Moses & Bk. Psalmes Leviticus xi. 33   Vessels of Pot-bakers earth.
1660   Act 12 Chas. II iv. Sched. at Bottles   Bottles..of Earth or Stone the dozen.
1728   E. Chambers Cycl.   Retort,..a round, bellied Vessel, either of Earth or Glass.
1763   Ann. Reg. 1762 138/1   Athenæus..describes this vase to be of baked earth.
1822   W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel I. xi. 295   You are the vase of earth, beware of knocking yourself against the vase of iron.
1852   Mrs P. Sinnett tr. É. R. Huc Recoll. Journey Tartary, Thibet, & China 300   They all carried in their hands a pot of baked earth.
1926   R. Karsten Civilization S. Amer. Indians xi. 365   The earth, before it was used for the fabrication of the clay vessels, was ground in big stone mortars.
1948   Li Ch'iao-p'ing Chem. Arts Old China ii. 21   The oven used in this case is made of earth or earthenware.
2001   Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nexis) 16 Nov.   Lanelle Abueva's special, handmade tiles and pottery..are used at length on kitchen splashboards and bathroom walls, enlivening countertops with fired earth.

a1350—2001(Hide quotations)


c. In sugar-refining: a layer of earth or clay spread over raw sugar. Cf. clay n. 5, earthed adj. 2. Obsolete. rare.

1752   Chambers's Cycl. (ed. 7) at Sugar   When the second earth is taken off, they cleanse the surface of the sugar with a brush.

1752—1752(Hide quotations)

 14. figurative. Chiefly literary and poetic.

 a. The material of the human body, considered as derived from the ground; the human body or its substance. Frequently in earth to earth with allusion to the Book of Common Prayer (see quot. 1549), Cf. clay n. 4a, mould n.1 2a.Though now regarded as a figurative use, this (originally) theological sense was not so considered until the modern period.

 [In quot. 1549   ultimately with allusion to Genesis 3:19; compare:
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Gen. iii. 19   In the sweate of thy face shalt thou eate thy bred, tyll thou be turned agayne vnto earth [Heb. ʿal-haāḏāmah, L. in terram], whence thou art take: for earth thou art, and vnto earth shalt thou be turned agayne [Heb. ḵi-ʿāp̱̱ār 'atāh wĕʿel-ʿāpār tašōḇ, L. quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris].
Coverdale's use of the same English word to translate two different Latin and Hebrew words in this passage follows either the Septuagint (which uses ancient Greek γῆ in both cases), or Luther's German translation of 1523 (which uses Erde in both cases), or both of these.]

OE   Guthlac B 1366   Nu se eorðan dæl, banhus abrocen burgum in innan wunað wælræste, ond se wuldres dæl of licfæte in leoht godes sigorlean sohte.
OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) i. 181   God..cwæð þæt he wolde wyrcan mannan of eorðan.
OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) xxi. 348   Ða ða Adam agylt hæfde, ða cwæð se ælmihtiga wealdend him to, þu eart eorðe & þu gewentst to eorþan.
OE   Ælfric Old Eng. Hexateuch: Gen. (Claud.) iii. 19   On swate ðines andwlitan ðu brycst ðines hlafes, oð ðæt ðu gewende to eorðan of ðære ðe ðu genumen wære, for ðan ðe ðu eart dust & to duste gewyrst.
c1300   St. Francis (Laud) 444 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 66 (MED)   Huy leten him ligge..on þe grounde, Þat eorþe miȝhte on eorþe deiȝe.
a1425  (a1400)    Prick of Conscience (Galba & Harl.) (1863) l. 427 (MED)   Þan es a man noght elles to say Bot askes and pouder, erthe and clay.
a1450   York Plays 15   Rise vppe, þou erthe, in bloode and bone, In shappe of man.
1549   Bk. Common Prayer (STC 16267) Buriall f. xxiiii*v   Earth to earth, asshes to asshes, dust to dust.
1609   W. Shakespeare Sonnets cxlvi. sig. I3   Poore soule the center of my sinfull earth.
1619   F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Maides Trag. v. sig. L2v   This earth of mine doth tremble, and I feele A starke affrighted motion in my bloud.
1745   tr. G. Blas Henry & Blanche 58   No pious Maid to shed the pitying Tear, Give Earth to Earth, or stretch me on the Bier.
1822   P. B. Shelley Hellas 21   The indignant spirit cast its mortal garment Among the slain—dead earth upon the earth.
1866   Friends' Intelligencer 8 Sept. 429/1   When he was buried mere earth went to earth.
a1963   L. MacNiece Coll. Poems (1979) 413   Confirming its uniqueness and the worth Of life, I think a death too does the same, Confirming and extending. Earth to earth.
1982   A. Green tr. M. Nahum Light of Eyes in Upright Pract. & Light of Eyes 76   He is completely humble, thinking of himself as nothing at all, considering his corporeal self to be mere ‘earth’.

OE—1982(Hide quotations)


b. Dull worthless matter, as typified by the material of the ground. Obsolete.

?1592   Trag. Solyman & Perseda i. sig. C3   What is iewels, or what is gould but earth.
1597   W. Shakespeare Richard II iii. iv. 79   Darst thou thou little better thing than earth Diuine his downefall?  View more context for this quotation
a1800   W. Cowper Comm. on Caraccioli in Lett. & Prose Writings (1986) V. 180   Gold is only Earth exhibiting itself to us under a particular Modification.

?1592—a1800(Hide quotations)


c. With disparaging implication: precious metal. Obsolete. rare.

1612   W. Parkes Curtaine-drawer 26   My bagges are full..with the white and red earth of the world.

1612—1612(Hide quotations)


 15. Chiefly History of Science and Astrology. Earth (sense 13a) as one of the four or more elements (element n. 1, 9a).

OE   Ælfric De Temporibus Anni (Cambr. Gg.3.28) x. §9. 74   Nis nan lichamlic ðing þe næbbe ða feower gesceafta him mid, þæt is lyft & fyr, eorðe & wæter.
c1175   Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 11504   Manness bodiȝ feȝedd iss Off fowwre kinne shaffte, Off heoffness fir, & off þe lifft, Off waterr, & off eorþe.
c1300   St. Michael (Laud) l. 667 in C. Horstmann Early S.-Eng. Legendary (1887) 318 (MED)   Of þis foure elemenz ech quic þing I-make is, Of eorþe, of watur, and of þe eyr, and of fuyre, i-wis.
a1393   J. Gower Confessio Amantis (Fairf.) vii. l. 224 (MED)   Foure elementz ther ben diverse; The ferste of hem men erthe calle, Which is the lowest of hem alle.
c1450  (?c1400)    tr. Honorius Augustodunensis Elucidarium (1909) 5 (MED)   Þe upper element, þat is þe fijre..þe myddel element, þat is watir..þe ynner partye of þe watir, þat is þe eyre..þe last element, þat is þe erþe.
1564   P. Moore Hope of Health i. iii. 5   The yearth is the loweste and heauiest element.
a1616   W. Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) i. v. 264   You should not rest Betweene the elements of ayre, and earth .  View more context for this quotation
1660   T. Stanley Hist. Philos. III. i. 151   He held that there are four Elements, Fire, Aire, Water, Earth.
1725   I. Watts Logick i. ii. §2   The chemist makes spirit, salt, sulphur, water, and earth, to be their five elements.
a1774   O. Goldsmith Surv. Exper. Philos. (1776) II. 4   Some have thought that air is nothing more than earth or water expanded, and assuming a more subtil form.
1852   A. Jones Hist. Sketch Electric Telegraph Pref. p. vii   The period of Paracelsus..when the one element was extended to four—water, air, earth, and fire.
1922   T. M. Lowry Inorg. Chem. iv. 45   In the alchemistic period, Aristotle's four elements, earth, air, fire, and water, were replaced by the three principles, mercury, sulphur, and salt.
1987   S. T. Dukes Chinese Hand Anal. vi. 52   In this hand the governing order is fire, air, earth, then water.
1991   C. Mansall Discover Astrol. iii. 31/1   The next main division of the zodiac is the grouping of three signs according to the four fundamental natures, Fire, Earth, Air and Water, more usually called the Elements or the Triplicities.
2002   Observer 7 July (Mag.) 64/3   Obesity (medovridhi) is a disturbance of kapha dosha—earth and water elements, according to Ayurveda.

OE—2002(Hide quotations)


 16. Chemistry. A substance having the properties of stability, dryness, non-volatility, lack of smell, etc., associated with earth (sense 13a); (in later use) spec. any of certain metallic oxides with these properties, as magnesia, alumina, and zirconia. Now chiefly historical (except with certain distinguishing words).alkaline, fuller's, muriatic, ponderous, rare earth: see the first element. See also Phrases 6.

a1475   Bk. Quinte Essence (1889) 13 (MED)   Putte it to þe fier of flawme riȝt strong, and þe reed water schal ascende..and to ȝou schal remayne an erþe riȝt blak in þe botum.
a1550  (▸1471)    G. Ripley Compend of Alchemy (Bodl. e Mus.) f. 45v (MED)   Iff the water also be egall in proporcion To the erth.
1706   tr. F. de la Calmette Riverius Reformatus 417   Alkalies, which are divided in many Species..Stones, Shells, Earths, Metals.
a1728   J. Woodward Attempt Nat. Hist. Fossils Eng. (1729) 1 (heading)    Earths or bodies opake, insipid, and, when dried, friable, or consisting of Parts easy to separate, soluble in Water.
1751   J. Hill Hist. Materia Medica 177   The five Genera of Earths are, 1. Boles, 2. Clays, 3. Marls, 4. Ochres, 5. Tripelas.
1788   J. St. John tr. L. B. Guyton de Morveau et al. Method Chym. Nomencl. 58   The earths..silice..alumine.
1791   W. Hamilton tr. C.-L. Berthollet Elements Art of Dyeing I. i. i. i. 22   They unite with acids, alkalis..and some earths, principally alumine.
1813   H. Davy Elements Agric. Chem. i. 11   Four Earths generally abound in soils, the aluminous, the siliceous, the calcareous, and the magnesian.
1863–79   H. Watts Dict. Chem. II. 360   Earths, this name is applied to the oxides of the metals, barium, strontium, etc.
1906   H. J. H. Fenton Notes Qualitative Anal. (new ed.) 155   Ammonia in presence of ammonium chloride may precipitate..Ce, Nd, Pr, (Nb and Ta) and Yttrium earths as hydroxides.
1922   T. M. Lowry Inorg. Chem. xxxiv. 652   The tervalency which appears in all their compounds and which is quite as fixed a characteristic of the earths as the bivalency of the alkaline earths.
1965   C. S. G. Phillips & R. J. P. Williams Inorg. Chem. I. ii. 46   There occurs a group of 14 elements, the lanthanides or rare-earths, in which the 4f sub-shell is filled.
2001   O. Sacks Uncle Tungsten v. 48   One could get a similar brilliant light by heating several other earths—zirconia, thoria, magnesia.

a1475—2001(Hide quotations)


 17. = earth colour n. 1. Frequently with distinguishing word. Cf. earth pigment n. at Compounds 8b.Cassel, Cologne, Italian, Melian, Persian earth, etc.: see the first element.

1598   R. Haydocke tr. G. P. Lomazzo Tracte Artes Paintinge iii. iv. 99   Reddes are made..of the red earth called Maiolica, otherwise browne of spaine.
a1650   E. Norgate Miniatura (Tanner 326) (1919) 15   Cologne Earth unburnt..is a very good colour for deepe shadowes.
1688   R. Holme Acad. Armory ii. 149/2   Terra Uert, a green Earth used in Painting.
1735   Dict. Polygraphicum II. Suppl.   Indian-red, or Persian-earth, is what we improperly call English-red.
1807   G. Chalmers Caledonia I. i. iii. 105   A Roman cinereal urn of a gravelly brown earth.
1844   J. Gregg Commerce of Prairies I. 278   This kind of crockery..is often fancifully painted with colored earths.
1968   Encycl. Brit. XV. 132/1   The Melian earth was employed as a pigment by ancient artists.
2001   P. Ball Bright Earth vi. 163   His [sc. Rembrandt's] blacks (charcoal and bone black) and browns (including Cologne earth, as it would then have been called) are supplemented by most of the earth colours.

1598—2001(Hide quotations)




 P1. (the) salt of the earth: see salt n.1 3a.

 P2. on (also upon) earth : in existence, in the world.

 a. As an intensifier following a superlative or an inclusive or exclusive expression, as nothing on earth, etc. Cf. world n. Phrases 4a.

OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 2nd Ser. (Cambr. Gg.3.28) xl. 336   He arærde gode to wurðmynte þæt tempel.., swilc hus swa nan oðer næs næfre on eorðan aræred.
c1275  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 2072   He somenede færd swulc nes næuere eær on erde [c1300 Otho erþe].
c1400  (?c1380)    Cleanness (1920) l. 892   Þe uglokest unhap þat ever on erd suffred.
c1450  (?a1400)    Wars Alexander (Ashm.) l. 271   Of my gracious goddis, þe grettest on erde.
1542   M. Coverdale tr. H. Bullinger Golden Bk. Christen Matrimonye xv. sig. lxv   Thys is my worthy and precious treasure, that..is to me dearer then all the Jewels vpon earth.
a1566   R. Edwards Damon & Pithias (1571) sig. Hij   Were there euer such frindes on earth as were these two?
1680   Don Tomazo 140   Assure your self, nothing on Earth shall labour more to retaliate those your Favours.
1749   H. Fielding Tom Jones III. viii. x. 232   I must be the most ungrateful Monster upon Earth.
1774   O. Goldsmith Retaliation 103   With no reason on earth to go out of his way, He turn'd and he varied full ten times a day.
1847   J. W. Carlyle Let. 15 July (1883) I. 389   If I could have done anything on earth but cry.
1873   ‘M. Twain’ & C. D. Warner Gilded Age 29   I've got the biggest scheme on earth—and I'll take you in!
1910   P. G. Wodehouse Psmith in City xviii. 158   Master Edward Waller..in frocks, looking like a gargoyle;..in sailor suit, looking like nothing on earth.
1950   D. Cooper Operation Heartbreak Prol. 9   Now, a whisky-and-soda was the one thing on earth that the Military Attaché most wanted.
1994   Dog World Feb. 57/1   Crufts! Is it the greatest dog show on earth?

OE—1994(Hide quotations)


 b. Intensifying an interrogative word or phrase: see what pron., adv., int., adj.1, conj., and n. Phrases 1i, who pron. and n. Phrases 3b, etc. Cf. world n. Phrases 4b.

[OE   Genesis A (1931) 1002   Ða worde frægn wuldres aldor Cain, hwær Abel eorðan wære.]
1591   E. Spenser Muiopotmos in Complaints sig. V2v   But what on earth can long abide in state?
1677   I. Barrow Serm. Passion 5   Where on earth, among the degenerate sons of Adam, could be found such an High Priest, as became us?
1762   Almira I. 92   What on earth can be, So lovely as Sweet constancy.
1795   E. Fenwick Secresy III. i   Who upon earth would imagine, in a seclusion so perfect, this girl would..dupe a whole family?
1859   Princess Royal Let. 26 Aug. in Dearest Child (1964) 207   I cannot see what on earth he can have of very urgent business here in November.
1876   R. Broughton Joan I. i. xiii. 268   You people really have the worst small beer in Europe! where on earth did you get it from?
1885   ‘F. Anstey’ Tinted Venus 128   Why on earth was she making this dead set at him?
1930   Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Jan. 28/2   ‘Who on earth is she?’ gasped the visitor from Woop-Woop.
1958   Oxf. Mag. 13 Nov. 94/2   What on earth is the point of any sort of criticism if it isn't practical?
2003   S. Mawer Fall (2004) x. 146   ‘Oh, I couldn't.’ He wiped the saddle of the bike and climbed astride it. ‘Why on earth not? Hop on.’

1591—2003(Hide quotations)


 P3. the ends (also end) of (the) earth and variants: the farthest limits of the earth; the most remote place on earth; (also) people from all parts of the earth. Chiefly used hyperbolically. Cf. world's end n. 2.  [After various post-classical Latin phrases containing terra, e.g. omnes fines terrae, a summitatibus terrae, usque ad ultimum terrae, de finibus terrae, all attested in the Vulgate (see examples in quots.), in turn after various Hellenistic Greek phrases containing γῆ   (e.g. πάντα τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς  , ἀπ' ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς  , ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς  , ἀπ' ἄκρου τῆς γῆς  ) in the Septuagint and the New Testament; of these, the Old Testament passages render various biblical Hebrew phrases containing 'ereṣ   earth, land, country, ground. Compare Old Dutch erendi   (in a gloss on the Vulgate), Old High German erdenti  , lit ‘earth-end’. Compare also world-end n. at world n. Compounds 8.]

OE   Blickling Homilies 93   Þy syxtan dæge..biþ from feower endum þære eorþan eall middangeard mid awergdum gastum gefylled.
lOE   Canterbury Psalter lxvi. 8   Et benedicat nos deus et metuant eum omnes fines terrae: bletsige us god & ondredon hine eælle endes eorðæn.
a1425  (c1395)    Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) (Royal) (1850) Jer. xxv. 32   A greet whirlwynd schal go out fro the endis of erthe. And the slayn men of the Lord schulen be..fro the ende of the erthe til to the ende ther of [L. a summitatibus terrae].
1483   W. Caxton tr. J. de Voragine Golden Legende f. lxxiv   And all the endes of the erthe shal worshipe the Nacions shal come to the fro ferre and bryngyng yeftes shal worshype in the our lord.
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Acts i. A   Ye shal receaue the power of ye holy goost, which shal come vpon you, and ye shalbe my witnesses at Ierusalem, and in all Iewrye and Samaria, and vnto the ende of the earth [Gk. ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς, L. usque ad ultimum terrae].
1634   S. Rutherford Lett. (1863) I. 111   I cannot but think, seeing the ends of the earth are given to Christ (and Scotland is the end of the earth, and so we are in Christ's charter-talizie) but our Lord will keep His possession.
1686   J. Scott Christian Life: Pt. II II. vii. 1169   Spreading..even to the utmost ends of the Earth.
1848   C. Brontë Let. 2 June (2000) II. 70   The sunshine seems to set all your expectations astir, and once bent on amusement, they will come to the ends of the earth in search thereof.
1895   P. Gardner in P. Gardner & F. B. Jevons Man. Greek Antiq. ii. i. 70   Zeus set [sic] forth two eagles from the two ends of the earth and they met at Delphi, whence the Omphalos at Delphi was regarded as the centre of the world.
a1917   M. B. Bishop Tidal Years & Other Poems (1929) 27   Let all the ends of earth uphold His majesty.
1928   Collier's 22 Sept. 26   The amateur radio ‘hams’ have the ends of the earth for neighbors.
1969   M. St. Just Let. 17 Nov. in T. Williams Five O'Clock Angel (1991) 198   I will happily come to the ends of the earth to see you and give you any comfort.
1990   Vanity Fair (N.Y.) Dec. 181/3   To the sophisticates of Bonn and Berlin, Ludwigshafen may be the end of the earth.
2005   Food & Trav. Feb.–Mar. 68/3   It is a nice surprise to travel to the ends of the earth and find Beatrix Potterish rusticity and ladies with secateurs.

OE—2005(Hide quotations)


 a. to lose earth : to lose ground. Obsolete.

a1450  (a1338)    R. Mannyng Chron. (Lamb.) (1887) i. l. 13860 (MED)   Þey wyþ-drowen hem, & erþe þey les.

a1450—a1450(Hide quotations)


 b. to win earth on : to gain ground on. Obsolete.

a1500  (?a1400)    Sir Torrent of Portyngale (1887) l. 656   Twenty fote he gard hyme goo, Thus erthe on hym he wane.

a1500—a1500(Hide quotations)


 P5. to move heaven and earth: see heaven n. Phrases 4.


 P6. With of, denoting kinds of earth (sense 16), chiefly ones obtained from a specified substance. Now historical.  earth of alum n. aluminium oxide.  earth of vitriol n. iron oxide.

1668   L. Colson Philosophia Maturata 49   With the ferment of Lune altered, thou mayst fix the white Earth of Vitriol.
1748   J. Hill Gen. Nat. Hist. I. 12   Heavy, friable, red Bole, call'd Seal'd Earth of Livonia.
1779   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 69 24   It is evident that skirl contains nearly as much earth of allum as the Cornish porcellane clay.
1796   R. Heron tr. A.-F. de Fourcroy Elements Chem. & Nat. Hist. II. 423   What remains is a red insipid earth, which is pure oxide of iron, and is called mild earth of vitriol.
1822   tr. C. Malte-Brun Universal Geogr. I. ix. 200   Pure alumina, or earth of alum, is distinguished among the elementary earths by its tendency to mix..with water.
1958   L. Thorndike Hist. Magic & Exper. Sci. VII. vi. 168   The Latin translation from the Italian was printed at Geneva in 1613. It was in two parts, the first treating of spirit of vitriol, oil of vitriol, salt of vitriol, earth of vitriol, vitriol rectified, [etc.].
1996   D. R. Oldroyd Thinking about Earth iii. 69   He dissolved alum in water, filtered the solution, and precipitated it with alkali, giving ‘earth of alum’.

1668—1996(Hide quotations)

 P7. (In sense 5.)

 a. to run to earth : to chase (a hunted animal) to an earth; (frequently figurative) to capture or find (a person or thing) after a long search.

1815   W. Scott Guy Mannering II. 322   It wad be a sair thing to leave the blessed sun, and the free air, and gang and be killed, like a tod that's run to earth, in a dungeon like that.
1857   C. Kingsley Two Years Ago III. x. 312   Frightened; beat; run to earth myself, though I talked so bravely of running others to earth just now.
1876   A. S. Palmer Leaves from Word-hunter's Notebk. Pref. p. viii   I have run it [sc. a word] to earth in a Sanscrit root.
1888   Spectator 7 Jan. 20/2   All the men who helped to run to earth the various members of the Ruthven family..were richly rewarded.
1915   Truth (Sydney) 13 June 10/3   The police are continually running these dingoes of society to earth.
1953   ‘F. O'Connor’ Stories 63   Eventually he would run her to earth in some snug with a couple of cronies.
2006   St. Louis (Missouri) Post-Dispatch (Nexis) 6 July b3   In the case of the individual fox that gets run to earth by a pack of slavering dogs, the end is not pretty.

1815—2006(Hide quotations)


 b. to go to earth : (of a hunted animal) to hide in an earth; (frequently figurative) to go into hiding, to lie low.

1820   Sporting Mag. Mar. 298/1   This fox ran a deal of ground, and tried frequently to go to earth, but to no purpose.
1861   L. Wraxall tr. A. Esquiros Eng. at Home I. viii. 158   After going to earth to some extent in order to escape death, the gipsies showed themselves again.
1913   Punch 26 Feb. 153/1   Men who used to go to earth behind evening papers on the entrance of a woman now spring to their feet in platoons without a moment's hesitation.
1917   M. Webb (title)    Gone to Earth.
1950   R. Macaulay World my Wilderness xvi. 194   The policeman..turned back to assist his colleagues in flushing Barbary, so mysteriously gone to earth.
1990   BBC Wildlife July 480/2   I went..on a foxhunt, and the fox went to earth.
2000   J. Connolly Dark Hollow i. ix. 159   I've asked around, but he's gone to earth.

1820—2000(Hide quotations)


 P8. down to earth: see down to earth adv. and adj..


 P9. to come down to earth with a bang: see bang n.1 Additions.


 P10. colloquial. to feel the earth move and variants: to experience a sensation of (esp. sexual) ecstasy. Similarly to make the earth move , etc.

1940   E. Hemingway For whom Bell Tolls xiii. 160   ‘Did thee feel the earth move?’ ‘Yes. As I died. Put thy arm around me, please.’
1975   ‘D. Jordan’ Black Acct. xxxi. 158   Guy stared at her and I fancy it was at that moment that the earth began to move under him.
1986   Times 25 June 19/5   When she..tears into ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ you can feel the earth shifting under your feet.
1987   ‘M. Yorke’ Evidence to Destroy x. 97   I was in bed with your daughter, trying to make the earth move for her.
2001   Daily Star (Nexis) 1 Aug. 3   We have what it takes for you to feel the earth move, from massage lotions to sex toys.

1940—2001(Hide quotations)



 C1. General attributive.

 a. With the sense ‘of or relating to the surface of the earth’, as earth movement, earth throe, etc. See also earth-rind n., earth tremor n. at Compounds 8b, earthdin n., earthquake n., etc.

OE   Ælfric Catholic Homilies: 1st Ser. (Royal) (1997) xl. 525   Oft eorþstyrung gehwær fela burga ofhreas.
lOE   Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) anno 1117   Seo mycele eorðbyfung on Lumbardige, forhwan manega mynstras..& huses gefeollon.
1869   Nature 11 Nov. 54/2   It was the action of the earth-throe on the ocean which caused the greatest devastation.
1937   S. W. Wooldridge & R. S. Morgan Physical Basis Geogr. x. 133   Great masses of metamorphic rock..have resulted from..regional metamorphism, i.e. deep burial of rock masses..due to earth-movement.
1993   Omni Oct. 114/4   The noise is caused by seismic slips, or small earth movements, along fault lines.

OE—1993(Hide quotations)


 b. With the sense ‘of or relating to the world or earth’, as earth-child, earth-lord, earth-magic, earth-noise, earth-pole, earth-power, earth-surface, etc.

eOE   Metres of Boethius xx. 194   Men habbæð geond middangeard eorðgesceafta ealla oferþungen.
OE   Exodus 392   Se snottra sunu Dauides.., eorðcyninga se wisesta on woruldrice.
a1225  (?OE)    MS Lamb. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1868) 1st Ser. 47 (MED)   Heo on eorðe ȝeueð reste to alle eorðe þrelles, wepmen and wifmen, of heore þrel weorkes.
c1300  (?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Otho) l. 25875   Ȝef þou hart erþ cniht [Calig. eorðlic cniht].
?a1475   Ludus Coventriae 146   And pes to man on erthe grownde.
1629   J. Gaule Practique Theories Christs Predict. 42   The Earth-Lords [sc. Adam's] honour now layd in the dust.
1702   B. Morrice Muse's Treat 144   Without Earth surface, obvious to Heaven's eyes, A boisterous part of my Dominions lies.
1847   R. W. Emerson Poems 30   From the earth-poles to the Line.
1847   R. W. Emerson Poems 39   Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs.
1850   Browning Poems II. 435   I can hear it 'Twixt my spirit And the earth~noise, intervene.
1887   Spectator 7 May 626/1   The earth-powers which dwell in the billows, the rain, the frost, and the air.
1901   ‘L. Malet’ Hist. Richard Calmady vi. x. 603   All this, the unity and secrecy of the place..circling them about with something of earth-magic.
1906   Westm. Gaz. 2 June 6/2   Earth-child, struggle no more.
1972   J. Fire & R. Erdoes Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions x. 181   The steam [of the sweat house] stops at the skin, but that earth-power penetrates your body and mind.
1990   D. Schimel in J. Leggett Global Warming iii. 78   Complex feedbacks in the Earth System can produce unexpected and potent responses.

eOE—1990(Hide quotations)


 c. With the sense ‘of, from, or relating to the ground’, ‘dwelling or existing on, near, or below the surface of the ground’, as earth-beetle, earth-bird, earth-damp, earth-hole, etc.

eOE   King Ælfred tr. Gregory Pastoral Care (Hatton) (1871) xxviii. 197   He [sc. David] wæs gehyd on anum eorðscræfe mid his monnum.
OE   Antwerp Gloss. (1955) 81   Tauri, eorðceaperas [read eorðceaferas].
a1200   MS Trin. Cambr. in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 139   He turnde..fro mennes wunienge to wilde deores, and ches þere crundel to halle and eorðhole to bure.
?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 106   Þeose..beoð eorð briddes. & nisteð on þe orðe.
c1390  (a1325)    Ipotis (Vernon) 167 in C. Horstmann Altengl. Legenden (1881) 2nd Ser. 343 (MED)   God maade Adam..of þinges seuene..Erþe-slym was on of þo.
?c1425   tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (Paris) (1971) 386 (MED)   Of erþe farne [L. politrici].
1601   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. 379   A kind of earth-beetles called tauri, i. Buls.
1664   H. Oldenburg Let. 25 Aug. in R. Boyle Corr. (2001) II. 301   He affirms, that the Earthdamp is a vapor not at all visible.
1724   J. Saunders Compl. Fisherman 230   A common Earth Grub.
1814   W. Scott Waverley II. xiv. 221   The light usually carried by a miner..certain to be extinguished should he encounter the more formidable hazard of earth-damps or pestiferous vapours.  View more context for this quotation
1854   Jrnl. Asiatic Soc. Bengal 1853 22 527   They are sometimes found on the surface of the ground in rainy weather, but are generally dug out of the earth. They are called earth-snakes by the natives.
1958   C. Achebe Things fall Apart iv. 29   The young tendrils were protected from earth-heat with rings of sisal leaves.
1992   Rodale Bk. Composting (new ed.) x. 196   At earth level over the pit he placed a rectangular, bottomless and topless, wooden box of slightly larger dimensions than the hole.

eOE—1992(Hide quotations)


 (a) With the sense ‘made of soil or earth’, as earth-bank, earth-bottom, earth-mound, earth-wall, etc.

eOE   tr. Bede Eccl. Hist. (Tanner) iv. xxix. 366   Þa gesohte he him nearo wic & wununesse, ond þa mid dice & mid eorðwealle [L. aggere] utan ymbsealde & gefæstnode.
OE   Beowulf (2008) 2957   Gewat him ða se goda mid his gædelingum, frod felageomor fæsten secean..; beah eft þonan eald under eorðweall.
1175   in W. H. Stevenson Rep. MSS Ld. Middleton (1911) 12   In altera erþmerche del est de Serdebege ubi marlere exstat.
a1475   in A. Clark Eng. Reg. Godstow Nunnery (1906) ii. 506   To repaire and hold vp the erthe walles.
a1522   G. Douglas tr. Virgil Æneid (1959) vii. iii. l. 25   Hys first mansioun..With turettis, fowsy and erd dikis ilk deill.
c1600  (?c1395)    Pierce Ploughman's Crede (Trin. Cambr. R.3.15) l. 157   Swich a bild bold, y-buld opon erþe heiȝte.
1610   P. Holland tr. W. Camden Britain ii. 793   Doth not Bede write in plaine tearmes, after he had spoken of the Earth-wall, at Abercuruing in Scotland, that a wall was reared of strong stone where Severus had made his of turfe?
1706   tr. E. Y. Ides Three Years Trav. Moscow to China x. 55   The Naunda is very broad, provided with high Sand and Earth banks on each side.
1764   Skeffling Inclosure Act 9   The earth-bank, or breast-work..against the river.
1875   R. W. Emerson Immortality in Wks. (1906) III. 280   The Pyramids..and cromlechs and earth-mounds much older.
1883   F. G. Heath in Cent. Mag. Dec. 169/1   Over the original earth-bottom of the cave is a bed or layer of considerable thickness.
1884   H. R. Haweis in Longman's Mag. Dec. 191   The earth-envelope of mind is not the measure of mind.
1923   D. H. Lawrence Birds, Beasts & Flowers (N.Y. ed.) 103   A snake came to my water-trough... He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom.
1956   S. H. Bell Erin's Orange Lily ix. 136   One old man..remembered when the earth floors of the ruins around his house were polished by the traffic of feet.
2001   S. Roaf et al. Ecohouse (2002) vi. 132   It has been shown that judicious placing of earth banks around houses can cause fires to jump buildings.

eOE—2001(Hide quotations)


 (b) With the sense ‘characteristic of or resembling soil or earth’, as earth-smell, earth-tint, earth-tone, etc. See also earth colour n. 2.

1814   C. I. Johnstone Saxon & Gaël III. 189   I think she'll no put owre this night. The wauch earth smell is about her already.
1865   Daily Tel. 27 Oct. 3/1   The colour of these tiles is a deep earth-tint.
1895   K. Grahame Golden Age 14   The air was wine, the moist earth-smell wine.
1942   T. S. Eliot Little Gidding i. 7   There is no earth smell Or smell of living thing.
1973   T. Pynchon Gravity's Rainbow i. 149   All in some nameless earth tone—a hedge-green, a clay-brown, a touch of oxidation, a breath of the autumnal.
1984   Homes & Land in Gatorland (Florida) 17 Apr. 3/1 (advt.)    Fieldstone complements this cheerful 3 bdr. Decorated in earthtones.

1814—1984(Hide quotations)


 e. Relating to the earth in relation to its conduction of electricity (cf. sense 6a), as earth resistance, earth spike, etc. See also earth connection n., earth return n. 1.

1866   R. M. Ferguson Electricity 243   The earth resistance to the current..is next to nothing.
1913   J. Erskine-Murray Handbk. Wireless Telegr. (ed. 4) xix. 367 (heading)    The radiation efficiency, earth resistance and other constants of a transmitter.
1985   C. S. Ward Anaesthetic Equipm. (ed. 2) xix. 313/1   The second method of improving safety is to install a current-operated earth-leakage circuit breaker (COELCB, also known as an ‘earth trip’).
1998   New Scientist 28 Nov. 57/2   I am installing an earth spike to securely earth the network of pipes.

1866—1998(Hide quotations)


 f. Chiefly Astrology. Designating, relating to, or characteristic of a person born under an earth sign or otherwise associated with the element earth (cf. sense 15). Cf. earth sign n. at Compounds 8b.

1877   A. Keary in Auld Lang Syne: Select. Papers ‘Pen & Pencil Club’ 86   He divides people into earth, air, fire, and water people... [Jacob] Böhme was an earth person himself, he says so.
1896   E. Kirk Libra 167   The lesson for the earth people is aspiration, a turning away from the things of sense, material pleasure, and ambition.
1916   D. R. P. Marquis Hermione 27   Papa is an Earth Person entirely. I've got his horoscope. He isn't at all spiritual.
1941   M. E. Jones Astrol. vii. 170   The air and earth temperaments are essentially focused in the moment.
1970   Press-Courier (Oxnard, Calif.) 26 June 10/2   Fire eyes are sparkling and daring; air eyes are alert and intelligent; water eyes are soulful and mysterious; earth eyes are honest and direct.
1990   M. J. Abadie & C. Bader Love Planets xiii. 147   If you're predominately Air, you might find that Earth types drive you bananas.
2008   E. Dugan How to enchant Man iv. 86   The air sign enjoys the security and stability that an earth person brings to the relationship.

1877—2008(Hide quotations)

 C2. Objective.

 a. In branch I., as earth-baking, earth-convulsing, earth-delving, earth-incinerating, earth-piercing, earth-worker, etc. See also earthquaking adj., earth-tiller n., earth-tilling n., etc.

1594   W. Shakespeare Venus & Adonis (new ed.) sig. Eiij   Where earth-deluing Conies keepe.
1598   J. Dickenson Greene in Conceipt 34   Earth-incinerating Aetnas wombe big swolne with flames.
1601   2nd Pt. Returne from Pernassus iii. iv. 1390   If his earth wroting snout shall gin to scorne.
1781   J. Sharp Acc. Pensilvanian Stove-grates 12/2   Boring Tools for Earth Boring.
1820   P. B. Shelley Prometheus Unbound iv. i. 138   Earth-convulsing behemoth.
1847   R. W. Emerson Poems 75   Earth-baking heat.
1848   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 3) 206   The broad and upturned base Of that earth-piercing altar pyramid.
1926   Missionary Rec. United Free Ch. Scotl. Apr. 168/1   The spirit of the Secession is strong among the shepherds & ‘earth-workers’ of the Scottish Border.
1966   J. Sankey Chalkland Ecol. iv. 84   An earth-boring tool was used to obtain samples of 1.1 × 103 cm3.
2002   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 10 Mar. i. 6/4   A top priority is improving ‘earth-penetrating weapons’ that could be used to destroy underground installations and hardened bunkers.

1594—2002(Hide quotations)

 b. In branch II.

 (a) With present participles, as earth-destroying, earth-devouring, earth-embracing, earth-refreshing, earth-treading, earth-vexing, etc.

1597   W. Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet i. ii. 23   Earth treadding stars, that make darke heauen light.  View more context for this quotation
a1616   W. Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) v. v. 136   This earth-vexing smart.  View more context for this quotation
1627   M. Drayton Moone-calfe in Battaile Agincourt 156   The earrh [sic] refreshing Sunne..his golden head doth runne, Farre vnder vs.
a1649   W. Drummond Wks. (1711) 33/2   The Earth, and Earth-embracing Sea, did Shake.
a1657   G. Daniel Poems (1878) I. 24   High, and purged Soules Leave Time and Place, to dull earthporing fooles.
1683   J. Mason Spiritual Songs xxx. 66   Fear not the Trumps Earth-rending Sound, Dread not the Day of Doom.
1748   A. Dutto Hints Glory of Christ 38   Was ever Love like this? Oh Heaven-astonishing, Earth-amazing, and Hell-confounding Love?
1755   J. Grainger Ode Solitude iii. 7   Rapt earth-gazing Resvery, Blushing artless..Modesty, Seek the solitary Wild.
1797   Parnassian Garland 13   Is there a State,..Who..Mocks the wide waste of earth-devouring Time?
1816   Ld. Byron Childe Harold: Canto III xci. 50   The peak Of earth-o'ergazing mountains.
1822   J. G. Lockhart Life Cervantes in P. A. Motteux tr. M. de Cervantes Don Quixote I. p. lix   The shrewd, earth-seeking, yet affectionate Sancho.
1848   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 3) 108   The sacrificial ox, Earth-embleming.
1883   Proctor in Contemp. Rev. Oct. 566   The earth-fashioning power of vulcanian forces.
1886   R. A. Proctor in 19th Cent. May 692   A special earth-crossing family of Comets.
a1959   E. Muir Coll. Poems (1984) 259   What present anguish Drew that long dirge from the earth-haunting marvel?
1970   Science 2 Jan. 12/3   Waste products of Soviet and American launches..wander in earth-circling or deep space orbits.
2002   Wicazo Sa Rev. 17 237   Technology..is the earth-destroying work of the white man.

1597—2002(Hide quotations)


 (b) With agent nouns, as earth-holder, earth-subduer, etc.

a1400   Ancrene Riwle (Pepys) (1976) 131   Þe erþe demer dredeful to biholde & storne.
1801   W. Huntington Bank of Faith 34   Finding nothing could be done with the earth-holders, I..determined to build my stories in the heaven.
1875   E. White Life in Christ (1878) i. i. 3   Wearing so many crowns, as Earth-subduer, Legislator.
1918   G. W. Russell Candle of Vision 172   Gradually the earth lover realises the golden world is all about him in imperishable beauty.
1976   I. Asimov Eyes on Universe vii. 146   Its orbit approached closer to that of earth than any of the major planets... It was the first of the so-called ‘Earth-grazers’ to be discovered.
2004   Independent (Nexis) 14 Nov. 32   You're a rapacious, corrupt, immoral Earth-destroyer.

a1400—2004(Hide quotations)


 c. In branch IV., as earth-hauling, earth-maker, earth-scraper, etc.

1615   T. Adams Spirituall Nauigator 34 in Blacke Devill   Earth-scrapers..that would dig to the Center to exhale riches.
1661   K. W. Confused Characters 99   This miserable earth-grubber doth..acquire this trash with vexation.
1719   D. Defoe Life Robinson Crusoe 182   Potters and Earth-makers, that is to say, People that tamper'd the Earth for the China Ware.
1856   New Eng. Farmer Sept. 402/2   Be a Farmer, not a mere earth scraper.
1875   R. Hill & F. Hill What we saw in Austral. xxiii. 380   We examined..models of..implements for quartz-crushing and earth-washing.
1901   R. Kipling Kim iv. 88   A..blue-petticoated clan of earth-carriers, hurrying north on news of a job.
1953   J. Huxley Evol. in Action iii. 74   The earth-swallowers, earthworms for example.
2000   R. H. Clough et al. Constr. Project Managem. (ed. 4) viii. 169   The temptation to overload equipment in an effort to get more production is especially true with earth-hauling units.

1615—2000(Hide quotations)


 d. In plural (in sense 12), as †earths-amazing adj. (obsolete).

1624   F. Quarles Iob Militant sig. N4   Iehouah did, at length, vnshrowd His Earths-amazing language.

1624—1624(Hide quotations)


 C3. Locative and originative, as earth-bedded, earth-ejected, earth-made, earth-rooted, earth-sprung, etc.

OE   Lambeth Psalter xlviii. 3   Omnes qui habitatis orbem, Quique terrigene et filii hominum : ealle ge þe oneardiað ymbhwyrfte gehwylce eorðbogiendan & bearn manna.
lOE   Canterbury Psalter xlviii. 3   Quique terrigene et filii hominum : & gefylce eorðware uel eordcende [eOE Vespasian Psalter eorðcende] & beærn mænnæ.
c1450  (?a1400)    Wars Alexander (Ashm.) l. 1753   A grub, a grege out of grace, ane erd-growyn [Trin. Dub. erth-growen] sorowe.
c1595   Countess of Pembroke Psalme lxvi. 12 in Coll. Wks. (1998) II. 75   All earth I say, and all earth dwellers, Be of his worth the singing tellers.
1596   C. Fitzgeffry Sir Francis Drake sig. C2   Earth-gaping Chasma's, that mishap aboades.
1614   R. Tailor Hogge hath lost Pearle in I. Reed Dodsley's Sel. Coll. Old Plays (1780) VI. 412   Tortur'd by the weak assailments Of earth-sprung griefs.
1642   H. More Ψυχωδια Platonica sig. D5v   This province hence is hight earth-groveling Aptery.
1813   W. Scott Rokeby ii. xv. 76   Yon earth-bedded jetting stone.
1849   J. C. Hare Serm. Preacht Herstmonceux Church II. 416   Everything earth-made has a weight in it which drags it down to earth.
1850   E. B. Browning Poems (new ed.) I. 313   As one God-satisfied and earth-undone.
1881   H. Phillips tr. L. C. A. von Chamisso Faust 15   Woe and wail! earth-born, earth-nurtured!
1886   R. A. Proctor in 19th Cent. May 694   The orbit..had been that of the earth-ejected comet.
1932   L. Lewisohn Story Amer. Lit. (1939) i. 27   A personality and a book so frank and genuine and earth-rooted.
1952   R. Campbell tr. St. John of Cross Poems 87   And so all creatures earth-begot begin from it to turn their glance.
2004   Straits Times (Singapore) (Nexis) 7 Oct.   Its earth-sprung opening yields to a rapturous baptism, building to a hot and joyful conclusion.

OE—2004(Hide quotations)


 C4. Similative, as earth-long, earth-smelling, earth-wide, etc. See also earth-coloured adj.

1600   C. Tourneur Transformed Metamorph. sig. C3   With fleecy wooll, that hung on earth-low brakes.
1864   R. S. Hawker Quest Sangraal 4   The Earthwide Judge, Pilate the Roman.
1893   B. Carman Low Tide on Grand Pré (1894) 85   I watched her earth-brown eyes grow glad.
1935   C. Day Lewis Time to Dance & Other Poems 55   Earth-long and heaven-outfacing woes.
1988   L. Hogan Savings 69   In the old days she was a god living in dark furrows of earth-smelling earth.
2004   L. Erdrich Four Souls (2005) xi. 139   The cool winey air, earth scented and moldy, rushed at my face as I slipped inside.

1600—2004(Hide quotations)


 C5. Instrumental, as earth-blinded, earth-dimmed, earth-fed, earth-stained, earth-worn, etc.

1596   J. Davies Orchestra ciii. sig. C4   He [sc. Love] first extracted from th' earth-mingled mind That heau'nly fire, or quintessence diuine.
1607   B. Jonson Volpone iii. vii. sig. Hv   Earth-fed mindes, That neuer tasted the true heau'n of loue.  View more context for this quotation
a1657   G. Daniel Trinarchodia: Henry V cli, in Poems (1878) IV. 138   Earth-rampeir'd Ears, expect the Drum to Call.
1708   C. Leslie Socinian Controv. Discuss'd vi. 45   They [sc. true Believers] are Stript and Divested of all their Earth Stain'd sinful Weeds.
1772   J. Spencer Hermas 65   Spurn hence these earth-worn cares.
1834   T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus iii. viii. 94/1   Thou the Earth-blinded summonest both Past and Future.
1866   E. Peacock Eng. Church Furnit. 177   The earth-worn face of the living.
1884   W. G. Horder in Christian World Pulpit 12 Nov. 310/3   Our earth~dimmed souls.
a1939   Z. Grey Black Mesa (1955) i. 13   Manning espied the moundlike hogans, earth-covered frames, that furnished homes for the nomad Indians.
1960   A. Christie Adventure of Christmas Pudding 233   Miss Greenshaw raised two earth-stained fingers to her lips.
2002   C. J. Kibert et al. Constr. Ecol. 283   There are already 2,000-3,000 earth-covered buildings in the USA.

1596—2002(Hide quotations)


 C6. In other adverbial uses, with the sense ‘to or towards the earth’, ‘over or through the earth’, as earth-bowed, earth-burrower, earth-creeping, earth-plodder, earth-turned, etc.

a1586   Sir P. Sidney Apol. Poetrie (1595) sig. L3   So earth-creeping a mind, that it cannot lift it selfe vp, to looke to the sky of Poetry.
1618   R. Brathwait Good Wife sig. F   Earth-turn'd, mole-ei'd, flesh-hook, that puls vs hence.
1793   G. Butt Poems II. 191   Cunning's earth-bent eye By gold's attraction turn'd from Truth awry.
1848   P. J. Bailey Festus (ed. 3) 61   With every earthlent ray of every star Holy and special influences are.
a1864   N. Hawthorne Amer. Note-bks. (1879) I. 218   Weary earth-plodders.
1883   Longman's Mag. Dec. 162   The mole is an earth-burrower.
1922   F. S. Marvin Western Races & World i. 23   The earth-bowed serf of Europe, the murdered slave of Africa.
1987   F. Jackson & P. Moore Life in Universe (new ed.) iv. 89   It seems that the crust on the far side of the Moon is thicker than that on the Earth-turned side.
1993   A. J. M. Shamon Three Steps to Sanctity i. 15   We are by nature both earth-bent and me-centered.

a1586—1993(Hide quotations)


 C7. Parasynthetic, as earth-floored, earth-roofed, earth-walled, etc. Cf. earthen adj. Compounds.

1809   A. M. Porter Don Sebastian II. 169   The girl..admitted Sebastian into a low, earth-floored room.
1838   J. R. Peabody World of Wonders (ed. 3) 56   Within an earth-walled enclosure..are six miniature tumuli.
1898   Missionary Herald (Boston) June 230/2   We are out of doors on the earth floor, under a low earth-roofed porch.
1930   N.Y. Times 2 Mar. (Special Features section) 4/1   Desert wastes, where aboriginal tribes built their earth-walled towns and tended their communal gardens.
1979   C. Foss Ephesus after Antiq. iii. x. 174   Most of the population lived below the hill of Ayashuluk in a village of about a hundred earth-roofed houses.
1984   Times 22 Aug. 12/4   The screech of brakes brings Israeli troops running from their earth-banked encampment beside the road.
1994   San Diego Union Tribune (Nexis) 18 Feb. b1   District officials have been trying to drum up support for their proposed $30.8 million earth-bottomed channel.
2001   Monumenta Nipponica 56 514   They rebuilt their entire kitchens, eliminating the traditional earth-floored spaces and replacing them with cement or linoleum flooring.

1809—2001(Hide quotations)

 C8. See also earthboard n., earth-born adj., earth colour n., earth mother n., earthquake n., earthwork n., earthworm n., etc.
 a. In the names of plants, animals, and fungi.

  earth almond   n.  [compare German Erdmandel (1795 or earlier)] the edible tuber of the nut grass Cyperus esculentus; (also) the plant itself; cf. earthnut n. 2.

1822   J. C. Loudon Encycl. Gardening i. iii. 889   The Earth Almond, or Rush Nut, Cyperus esculentus.
1856   Ann. Rep. Commissioner Patents 1855: Agric. p. xiii, in U.S. Congress. Serial Set (34th Congr., 1st Sess.: House of Representatives Executive Doc. 12) VI   The Earth Almond, or Chufa, (Cyperus esculentus), a small tuberous esculent, from the south of Spain, has naturalised itself to our climate and soil.
1943   T. S. Githens & C. E. Wood Food Resources of Afr. 73   The Tiger Nut or Earth Almond..is more important in North Africa in its role of a weed than in that of a food.
2006   M. Pearson & M. Westerman Spain from Backpack 45   I bought a refreshing horchata, the milky, partially frozen Valencian drink made from chufas (earth almonds).

1822—2006(Hide quotations)


earthbind   n. Obsolete rare a creeping plant (not identified).

1597   W. Langham Garden of Health 205   Headache of rheume, put in the iuice of white Earthbinde into the nose.

1597—1597(Hide quotations)


earth-bob   n. Obsolete the subterranean larva of a beetle, perhaps a chafer, used as bait for fishing.

1696   J. Smith True Art Angling 16   Bobs, of these there are two sorts..one is called the Earth bob.
1787   T. Best Conc. Treat. Angling (ed. 2) 57   The best bait for them in the winter is, the earth bob, it is the spawn of the beetle.
1865   T. E. Fuller Boy's Holiday Bk. 143   The baits for dace are the red-worm, brandling, gilt-tail, cow-dung, and earth-bob.

1696—1865(Hide quotations)


  earth chestnut   n.  (a) = earthnut n. 1;  (b) = earth-mouse n.   (obsolete rare).

1578   H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens Niewe Herball v. xxiii. 579   The roote is lyke Bulbus, and in taste is much lyke to the Chestnut: in consyderation whereof, it may well be called..in English, Earth Chestnut.
1854   P. L. Simmonds Comm. Products Veg. Kingdom ii. 374   Lathyrus tuberosus, called by the peasants the earth mouse, on account of its form, and the earth chestnut on account of its taste.
1866   Wilts. Archaeol. & Nat. Hist. Mag. 9 242   The tuber..is sought after by children of the Wiltshire peasantry under the name of Earth-nut or Earth-chestnut, from its resemblance to the latter fruit in flavour.
1912   W. Tibbles Foods xxv. 691   Groundnut (Pignut, Earth Chestnut): The tuberous root of Bunium bulbocastanum.
1996   Chiltern Seeds Catal. 39   Earth Chestnut, Tuberous Caraway... Underground and out of sight it produces black starchy tubers, each an inch or so across.

1578—1996(Hide quotations)


  earth dog   n.  [originally after Middle French chien de terre, in later use after French terrier (also chien terrier: see terrier n.1)] a dog, typically a terrier, used to turn out foxes and other burrowing animals from their earths.

1600   R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault Maison Rustique vii. xxxvii. 699   The hunting of the foxe and brocke..is to bee perfourmed with earth dogs [Fr. chiens de terre].
1898   Newcastle Weekly Courant 9 July 5/6   The original Skyes were the perfection of terriers or earth dogs, and woe betide the foxes, the badgers, or the wild cats against whom they were pitted.
1945   C. L. B. Hubbard Observer's Bk. Dogs 162   To-day he [sc. the Terrier] is..not so much the ratter and earth-dog of last century.
2002   J. Cunliffe Encycl. Dog Breeds (new ed.) 249/1   The Skye terrier has been known for four centuries, used as an earth dog to bolt fox and badger.

1600—2002(Hide quotations)


  earth-drake   n. a dragon that lives in the earth.In modern use chiefly in translations of or with allusion to Beowulf.

OE   Beowulf (2008) 2712   Sio wund..þe him se eorðdraca ær geworhte.
1853   W. Spalding. Hist. Eng. Lit. i. ii. 40   He [sc. Beowulf] sacrifices his own life in destroying a frightful earthdrake or dragon.
1973   M. Alexander tr. Beowulf 137   The wound that the earth-drake Had first succeeded in inflicting on him Began to burn and swell.

OE—1973(Hide quotations)


earth-flea   n.  [in sense (a)   after German Erdfloh (1719 in the passage translated in quot. 1731 for earth fly n.)] Obsolete  (a) a flea beetle (family Chrysomelidae); also more fully earth-flea-beetle;  (b) = earth fly n. (b)   (rare).Sense (b)   is apparently only attested in dictionaries or glossaries.

1768   T. Nugent Trav. Germany II. 274   The plentiful watering of cole plants every day, is the only sure method against the earth-flea.
1814   W. Johnston tr. J. Beckmann Hist. Invent. (ed. 2) IV. 276   When sown late in the season, they were injured by the earth-flea.
1840   J. Loudon & M. Loudon tr. V. Köllar Treat. Insects II. 141   Shade, coolness, and rainy weather, are the surest protection of young plants from the attacks of the earth-flea-beetles.
1889   Cent. Dict.   Earth-flea, a name of the chigoe, Sarcopsylla penetrans: so called from its living in the earth.

1768—1889(Hide quotations)


earth fly   n.  [in sense (a)   apparently originally after German Erdfloh earth-flea n.] Obsolete any of several small insects; esp.:  (a) = earth-flea n. (a);  (b) the chigoe or sand flea, Tunga penetrans.

1731   G. Medley tr. P. Kolb Present State Cape Good-Hope II. 176   There is a sort of Flies at the Cape which the Europeans call Earth-flies [Ger. der Erd-Floh].
1768   T. Nugent Trav. Germany II. xix. 274   Cole, and gillyflowers, and especially white-cabbage, and cauliflowers, for preventing the earth-flies, must, in a drought, by plentifully watered.
1824   H. E. Lloyd tr. J. B. von Spix & C. F. P. von Martius Trav. Brazil I. ii. ii. 258   The earth-flies (Pulex penetrans), which are concealed in numbers in the sand, penetrate under the nails of the hands and feet.
1865   J. G. Wood Homes without Hands xxvi. 509   The only insect which can be said to be parasitic on man, and at the same time form a habitation, is the celebrated chigoe Pulex penetrans, otherwise called the jigger, or earth fly.

1731—1865(Hide quotations)


  earth hog   n.  [after South African Dutch aardvark aardvark n.] now rare the aardvark, Orycteropus afer; cf. earth-pig n.

1731   G. Medley tr. P. Kolb Present State Cape Good-Hope II. 118   The tongue of an Earth-Hog is long and pointed. When he is hungry, he looks for an Ant-Hill; and coming nigh the same, he lays him down,..stretching out his long tongue..the upper part of which being very clammy, the Ants are held thereon by the Legs.
1796   E. Helme tr. F. Le Vaillant's New Trav. III. 392   This ant-bear is called in the colonies erd-verken (earth hog).
1847   J. Barrow Reflect. 146   The aard-varké, or earth-hog (the Myrmecophaga Capensis), is also very common, undermines the ground, and seldom appears but in the night.
1965   Sci. News 17 July 44/3   Known as ant-bear, earth hog and Isambane, the aardvark holds special place in almost all dictionaries.

1731—1965(Hide quotations)


earth ivy   n.  [probably after post-classical Latin hedera terrestris (4th cent.), a contemporary alternative name for hedera nigra; compare Old High German erd-ebuh (German Erdefeu)] Obsolete any of several creeping plants, esp. ground ivy, Glechoma hederacea, and common ivy, Hedera helix; cf. ground-ivy n.

OE   Brussels Gloss. in T. Wright & R. P. Wülcker Anglo-Saxon & Old Eng. Vocab. (1884) I. 299   Hedera nigra, eorðifig.
a1300   in T. Wright & R. P. Wülcker Anglo-Saxon & Old Eng. Vocab. (1884) I. 558 /l. 5   Hedera nigra, iere, oerþiui.
c1440   Liber de Diversis Med. 17   Tak erthe yven & stampe it & helle a littill jus in þe ere.
1561   J. Hollybush tr. H. Brunschwig Most Excellent Homish Apothecarye f. 37   Take the lesse Shaving girss..and Earth yvy, of eche two handfull.

OE—1561(Hide quotations)


earth-lard n. Obsolete rare the white subterranean larva of the cockchafer, Melolontha melolontha.

1801   Trans. Soc. Arts 19 175   The Grubs of the Cockchafers... When disturbed they contract their length, and..appear like lumps of white fat. [Note] Hence the British name ‘Earth-Lard’.

1801—1801(Hide quotations)


  earth-louse   n. now rare (usually in plural) any of various soil-dwelling insects, as root aphids and springtails.In quot. 1601: a burrowing scarabaeid beetle.  [After post-classical Latin pedunculus terrae, alteration of classical Latin pēdiculus terrae; compare Old Icelandic jarðlús earwig.]

1601   P. Holland tr. Pliny Hist. World II. 379   There is a kinde of earth-Beetles called Tauri, i. Buls: which name they tooke of the little hornes that they carie..; some tearme them, Pedunculos terræ, earth-lice.
1807   in Periodical Accts. Missions Church United Brethren (?1808) 4 326   We must add the annual increase of all kinds of grubs, and other devouring insects, earth-lice, moths, caterpillars, grey and green worms.
1909   Cent. Dict. Suppl.   Earth-louse, 1. Any root-feeding aphidid... 2. Any one of many soil-inhabiting thysanurous insects.
1922   E. R. Eddison Worm Ouroboros xxviii. 364   The little dead earth-louse were of greater avail than thou, were it not nothing as thou art nothing.

1601—1922(Hide quotations)


  earthmoss   n. now historical and rare. a moss of the genus Phascum (family Pottiaceae).

1678   J. Ray tr. F. Willughby Ornithol. ii. 263   You must prepare [for canaries]..Elks hair..and earth-moss.
1798   C. Abbot Flora Bedfordiensis xxiv. 229   Earth moss. Phascum... Veil very small. Lid none.
1864   M. Plues Rambles in Search of Flowerless Plants viii. 62   In the Earth-moss family the capsules have little or no stalks, the leaves are generally in eight rows, and the whole plant is wonderfully small.
1947   D. Hunter Papermaking (ed. 2) 327   There are eighteen specimens of paper which embrace sheets made from nettles, straw, earthmoss, cattails, and aloe leaves.

1678—1947(Hide quotations)


earth-mouse   n.  [compare French souris de terre (1854 or earlier), German Erdmaus (1785 or earlier)] Obsolete rare the tuberous pea, Lathyrus tuberosus.

1854   P. L. Simmonds Comm. Products Veg. Kingdom ii. 374   Lathyrus tuberosus, called by the peasants the earth mouse, on account of its form, and the earth chestnut on account of its taste.
1859   All Year Round 3 Dec. 126   The earth-mouse (Lathyrus tuberosus), which the French peasant will not cultivate because, he says, it walks underground.

1854—1859(Hide quotations)


  earth pea   n.  [compare slightly earlier earthnut pea n. at earthnut n. Compounds] now rare any of various chiefly leguminous plants producing edible seeds in underground pods; esp. (in early use) a pea, Lathyrus amphicarpus, originating in Syria.

1754   P. Miller Gardeners Dict. (rev. ed.) III. (Table of Plants)   Earth-peas. See Lathyrus.
1832   J. L. Comstock Introd. Study Bot. 166   Genus Lathyrus. To this genus belong the Sweet Pea,..the Everlasting Pea, the Earth pea, Lord Anson's Pea, &c.
1932   E. B. Fred et al. Root Nodule Bacteria & Leguminous Plants viii. 132   Juga bean, earth pea, Bambarra ground nut, Madagascar pea nut.
1992   Hist. Afr. 19 27   Cowpeas, earth peas, pigeon peas, chick peas, peanuts, and tiger nuts were all described as beans by one observer or another.

1754—1992(Hide quotations)


  earth-pig   n.  [after South African Dutch aardvark aardvark n.; compare earlier earth hog n.] the aardvark, Orycteropus afer.

1785   G. Forster tr. A. Sparrman Voy. Cape Good Hope I. 270   The aard-varken, or earth-pig, which, probably, is a species of manis.
1878   Newcastle Courant 20 Sept. 6/7   Captain Lucas had opportunities of enjoying what sport there is in South Africa, and he incidentally mentions the ant bear or earth pig.
1994   Jrnl. Biogeogr. 21 529   Fungus-culturing termites..are eaten by the largest myrmecophage, the earth-pig, in southern Africa.

1785—1994(Hide quotations)


earth-puff   n. Obsolete rare a type of edible fungus, perhaps a puffball.

1585   J. Higgins tr. Junius Nomenclator   Tuberes, Mushroms, tadstooles, earthturfes, earthpuffes.
1761   T. Arnold Bailey's Compl. Eng. Dict. (German ed.) II. 127/1   Erdapfel, Sow-Bread, Earth-Puff, Truffles.

1585—1761(Hide quotations)


earth-shrew   n. Obsolete a shrew (genus Sorex); cf. hardishrew n.

1607   E. Topsell Hist. Foure-footed Beastes 534 (heading)    The movse called the Shrew, or the erd-Shrew.
1693   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 17 851   The Shrew-mouse or Erd, i.e. Earth-shrew.
a1803   J. Walker Ess. Nat. Hist. & Rural Econ. (1812) xiii. 489   Brit. The Shrew. Angl. Shrew-mouse or Hardy Shrew. Scot. Erd-shrew.

1607—a1803(Hide quotations)


  earth smoke   n.  [after French fumeterre or its etymon post-classical Latin fumus terrrae fumitory n.; compare German Erdrauch (16th cent.)] common fumitory, Fumaria officinalis.

1611   J. Florio Queen Anna's New World of Words   Fumaria, fumitory or earth-smoke.
1727   N. Bailey Universal Etymol. Eng. Dict. at Fumaria   Fumus Terræ (with Botanists), Fumitory, Earth-smoke.
1863   R. C. A. Prior On Pop. Names Brit. Plants 88   Fumitory,..earth-smoke, from the belief that it was produced without seed from vapours rising from the earth.
1996   R. Mabey Flora Britannica 57/1   Common fumitory,..Earth smoke, red-tipped-web, is a common weed of gardens... The delicate grey-green leaves do have a slightly smoky appearance.

1611—1996(Hide quotations)


earth-spider   n. Obsolete a wolf spider (family Lycosidae), spec. the European tarantula, Lycosa tarentula; (also) an American tarantula (family Theraphosidae).

1679   W. Winstanley Country-man's Guide xxviii. 36   In case the horse..hath swallowed down any venemous beast, as a..Earth Spider, Snale, or Dirt-Grubber, (Buprestis) then you must make him run, until he sweats.
1726   L. Alberti's Archit. I. 6   A small Earth Spider, commonly call'd a Tarantula.
1803   Philos. Mag. 15 67   Mention is made also of a tarantula, which, according to every probability, is nothing else than the aranea clavipes, or a large American kind of earth spider.
1883   Chambers's Jrnl. 1 Dec. 760/2   Though the exact circumstances under which this epidemic arose [in 15th cent. Italy] are involved in mystery, yet we may probably safely assume that they were in some way or other connected with a common earth-spider, the tarantula.

1679—1883(Hide quotations)


earth-squirrel   n. Obsolete a ground squirrel or gopher (genus Spermophilus).

1839   J. Paget Hungary & Transylvania II. i. 7   In sandy districts the earless marmot is a constant source of amusement. [Note] I think this is the earth squirrel of some writers,—the spermophile of F. Cuvier.
1857   W. Chandless Visit Salt Lake II. x. 311   Little heaps of earth thrown out from the burrowings of the earth-squirrel, who generally sat on the top of the heap, sunning himself.

1839—1857(Hide quotations)


  earth tongue   n.  [after scientific Latin Geoglossum, genus name (1799 or earlier)] the tongue-shaped fruiting body of any of various ascomycete fungi of the family Geoglossaceae, esp. those of the genus Geoglossum.

1826   R. K. Greville Sc. Cryptog. Flora IV. 211 (heading)    Green Earth-tongue.
1863   Pop. Sci. Rev. 2 331   Of all the wicked-looking Fungi, none have so weird an appearance as the black Geoglossum. It is well termed Earth-tongue, for it springs in a tongue shape from the ground, black and glutinous.
1939   D. C. Peattie Flowering Earth xviii. 231   On the ground little earth-tongue fungi stuck out their tongues.
1991   D. Alora All That Rain Promises & More xi. 214   Velvety black earth tongue (Tricoglossum hirsutum)... This dainty mushroom is often overlooked because of its dark color. Several similar but less velvety black earth tongues belong to a related genus, Geoglossum.

1826—1991(Hide quotations)


  earth wolf   n.  [after South African Dutch aardwolf aardwolf n.] the aardwolf, Proteles cristatus (family Hyaenidae).Now chiefly in glosses of aardwolf.

1796   tr. F. Le Vaillant New Trav. Afr. II. 323   Beside these hyænas and the jackals..I remarked the cry of some other animal. My people distinguished it by the name of the earth-wolf. I do not know it.
1833   Penny Cycl. I. 4/2   The genus proteles contains but a single species, the Aard-wolf or earth-wolf.., so called by the European colonists in the neighbourhood of Algoa Bay in South Africa.
1898   Daily News 19 Jan. 5/4   A curious pair has come to live in the Zoo—specimens of the African Aard Wolf, which means Earth Wolf.
1988   J. Branford in E. G. Stanley & T. F. Hoad Words for Robert Burchfield's 65th Birthday 75   The name [sc. ‘wolf’] has not survived in English on its own, but it is still found in compounds like strandwolf (beach wolf), streepwolf (striped wolf), and aardwolf (earth wolf, the maned jackal).

1796—1988(Hide quotations)


  earth art   n. a style of art characterized by the use of soil, rock and other materials derived from nature, typically in large, site-specific sculptures or installations in the natural landscape; cf. earthwork n. 4.The earth art movement originally flourished in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in the United States.

1968   Albuquerque (New Mexico) Tribune 11 Nov. b2/5   Much of the exhibit consists of photographs, because most earth art is outdoors.
1984   D. Lodge Small World i. 38   Earth art—you know, those designs miles long that you can only appreciate from an aeroplane.
2004   Observer 25 Apr. (Mag.) 25/1   We've just walked to the middle of the 1,500ft of serpentine coils that make up Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, perhaps the world's best-known work of earth art.

1968—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth artist   n.  (a) an artist from this world, rather than a supernatural realm;  (b) an artist in the genre of earth art.Sense (a)   apparently represents an isolated use.

1918   L. K. Jones God's World I. 134   There is a type of mediumship that concerns itself only with the production of paintings... The colors are different from any that can be found in the studio of any earth-artist.
1969   Hays (Kansas) Daily News 3 Apr. 5/2   Sand, salt, and grass are materials used by other ‘Earth’ artists.
2003   G. Silk in D. A. Pisano Airplane in Amer. Culture (2006) 283   Forsaking the confines of the gallery and museum in favor of working directly in the land, earth artists commonly produce large-scale art, often in remote places.

1918—2003(Hide quotations)


  earth auger   n. = auger n.1 2.

1790   B. Poellnitz Let. 20 Mar. in G. Washington Papers (1996) Presidential Ser. V. 265   My implements I thinck [sic] are equal to the undertaking... 1 mill for fattening cattle. 1 Earth augre. 1 augre for conducting water works. [etc.].
1861   Jrnl. Soc. Arts 5 Apr. 360/1   An earth auger for boring post holes.
1981   E. K. Blankenbaker Mod. Plumbing xv. 183/1   Bored wells are made with an earth auger. It drills a hole which is larger in diameter than the casing.

1790—1981(Hide quotations)


  earth bag   n.  [after French sac à terre (see quot. 1702)] a bag filled with earth, used esp. in the construction of fortifications or dwellings; cf. sandbag n.

1702   Mil. Dict. at Canvas Bags   The French call them Sacs-a-Terre, that is, Earth-Bags.
1804   T. Sunderland Exercise Light Infantry vi. 73   An earth bag contains about a cubic foot of earth, and used to raise a parapet in haste, or to repair one.
1936   San Antonio (Texas) Express 1 Aug. 2/3   Earth bags were piled up around historic St. Paul's Indian Mission.
2005   A. Kennedy in J. Ostrow House that Jill Built ii. 26   Adobe plaster..covers the earth bags that create the walls around and between the structural wood skeleton.

1702—2005(Hide quotations)


  earth-based adj. based on or (poetic) resting on the earth; spec. located on the earth in contrast to being in space or on another planet; derived from or obtained using an instrument so placed.

1839   Mrs. Hale Ladies' Wreath 401   On the distant heights Soft clouds, earth-based, repose.
a1868   C. Harpur Poet. Wks. (1984) 841   Yon rude hills Uppiled against the south like rugged banks Of earth-based cloud.
1952   U.S. Patent 2,623,714 2   The support also carries an azimuth reference to supply the third earth-based quantity, heading.
1959   Sci. News Let. 19 Sept. 181/1   Earth-based telescopes..have long been the principal tool for the exploration of the moon.
1987   R. A. Thompson & L. S. Thompson Egoshell ii. C-ii. 127   If..a person could travel at 80 percent of the speed of light to the ‘dog star’, Sirius,..the round trip by earth-based time standards would take fifteen years.
2005   Nature 10 Mar. 163/2   Methane clouds in Titan's troposphere have been observed in Earth-based images.

1839—2005(Hide quotations)


  earth bath   n.  [after post-classical Latin balneum terrae (a1765 in the passage translated in quot. 1765) and its model Spanish vaño de tierra ( F. Solano de Luque Origen Morboso (1718) v. 174); compare earlier air bath n.] now historical a kind of medical treatment in which the patient is buried up to the shoulders in the ground.

1765   tr. G. van Swieten Comm. Aphorisms Boerhaave XII. 200   I have formerly heard..that through the whole kingdom of Granada, they have a method of curing a phthisis by an earth bath [L. per balneum terrae].
a1832   J. Mackintosh Mem. in R. J. Mackintosh Life (1835) I. i. 28   He endeavoured to make himself conspicuous, by..the earth bath, which consisted in burying himself in the ground up to the neck.
1907   Westm. Mag. 8 May 4/2   Graham advocated earth-baths.
2004   Northern Echo (Nexis) 25 Aug. 8   The physician told Dickinson to take an ‘earth bath’ in his native soil for four hours.

1765—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth battery   n.  (a) Military a battery (battery n. 5a) formed of earth (obsolete);  (b) a battery formed by burying two electrodes of different materials in the earth some distance apart.Sense (a)   apparently represents an isolated use.

1841   Chinese Repository Sept. 526   It was a strong and thick wall..with only small low gun-ports, and a defense between one gun-port and another of a thick earth battery of equal height with the wall.
1846   Penny Cycl. Suppl. II. 620/1   In some cases, where a constant current of low intensity is required, this earth battery would become very useful.
1858   Ladies' Repository Apr. 371/2   The only winding-up required by this extraordinary clock is a feed of zinc to the earth-battery when it shall have become oxydized by long use.
1982   U.S. Patent 4,572,582 1   This invention pertains to earth batteries..and more particularly, to a battery in which one electrode is a veined material located in the earth.
2007   U.S. Patent 7,177,819 B2 Abstr.   An earth battery may also be included, at least partially contained within the real estate sign and supplying power to the real estate sign.

1841—2007(Hide quotations)


  earth-bred adj.  [originally after classical Latin terrigena, noun (see terrigenous adj.)] bred from or on the earth; earth-born.

1567   A. Golding tr. Ovid Metamorphosis (new ed.) vii. f. 82v   These earthbred [L. terrigenae] brothers by and by did one another wound.
1603   H. Crosse Vertues Common-wealth sig. M3v   These aboriginies, earth-bred wormes,..will stand vpon termes of gentilitie.
1729   R. Savage Wanderer i. 26   Rude, earth-bred Storms o'er meaner Valleys blow.
1831   Liberal Preacher 1 60   Those fine sentiments and wide views which they find so useless, amidst the earth-bred spirits that surround them.
1910   B. B. Gilchrist Life Mary Lyon ii. 30   Her earth-bred sense taught her when to respect it [sc. convention] and when to set it aside.
2006   Space Daily (Nexis) 22 June   A direct comparison of the space-bred flies with the Earth-bred control flies.

1567—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth-built adj. (of a structure) constructed from earth.

1627   T. May tr. Lucan Pharsalia (new ed.) vi. sig. K3   Let flying Parthians still admire alone The brittle earth-built walls of Babylon.
1795   S. Ireland Picturesque Views Avon 4   Clay, or earth-built huts.
1884   Blackwood's Mag. July 133/2   The strong earth-built forts wherein the Persian garrisons for generations past had lived on guard.
1930   Times 18 Feb. 50/3   To quarry out and build up a semi-circular amphitheatre half a mile in diameter in place of the distant and earth-built amphitheatres of the famed Delhi Durbars.
2003   A. Steen et al. Built by Hand 53/1   In many climates, earth-built walls hold up to weather and erosion, provided they are built on good foundations.

1627—2003(Hide quotations)


  earth car   n. now rare a railway car used for transporting and dumping waste produced during rail works.

1874   E. H. Knight Amer. Mech. Dict. I. 769/2   Earth-car, a car for transporting gravel and stone in railway operations.
1902   Opinion Attorney-general Title New Panama Canal Company 249   Whatever methods may be adopted, the dredges of all kinds, the excavators, the loading derricks, the rails, locomotives, and earth cars are amply sufficient.

1847—1902(Hide quotations)


earth-chine   n. Obsolete a fissure in the earth.

a1300  (c1275)    Physiologus (1991) l. 270   Tis der..Goð o felde to a furȝ, and falleð ðarinne, In eried lond er in erð-chine, for to bilirten fuȝeles.

a1300—a1300(Hide quotations)


  Earth Charter   n. a document which (although not legally enforceable) details action and principles for environmental protection and sustainable development agreed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, June 1992 (also called Rio Declaration; cf. Agenda 21 n. at agenda n. Compounds 3); (also) any similar document containing recommendations for environmental protection.

1990   UN Chron. Dec. 63   Maurice Strong..proposed that the world meeting agree on an Earth Charter and a ‘prioritized agenda’ to be known as Agenda 21 to implement it.
1994   Marine Policy 18 103/2   The Earth Council has the following elements:..Earth Charter. A statement of values for wide general acceptance will be articulated and promoted, building on the range of existing charters and declarations.
2001   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 2 Sept. i. 24/4   Multinational efforts like Earth Charter, which push nations and corporations to embrace a sense of ethical responsibility to the earth.

1990—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth closet   n. a lavatory in which dry earth is used to cover excrement; cf. water closet n.

1863   Jrnl. Royal Agric. Soc. 24 115   Mr. Young..has for two years had an earth-closet in a small room within ten feet of that used by his lodgers..as a dining room.
1917   H. W. Conn Bacteria, Yeasts, & Molds in Home (rev. ed.) viii. 117   They are immensely numerous in the vicinity of earth closets or privies, and the soil near sink drains and manure heaps is filled with them.
1964   L. Woolf Beginning Again I. 60   An earth closet discretely, but ineffectively, hidden in a grove of cherry laurels.
2004   Daily Tel. 17 Nov. 16/6   I built my own earth closet—essentially a commode with a bucket inside, and a supply of dried earth from the garden.

1863—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth coal   n. now historical ordinary coal as opposed to charcoal.

a1552   J. Leland Itinerary (1711) V. 85   Though betwixt Cawoode and Rotheram be good Plenti of Wood, yet the People burne much Yerth Cole.
1612   S. Sturtevant Metallica To Rdr. sig. A2   To bring Earth-coale to that equallity of heat that Wood or Char-coale hath.
1756   R. Rolt New Dict. Trade   Coal, a black, sulphurous, inflammable matter,..being sometimes called pit-coal, Scotch-coal, Welch-coal, cannel-coal, fossil-coal, earth-coal, [etc.].
1807   R. Southey Lett. from Eng. I. ii. 12   They burn earth-coal every where.
1957   F. Jonas tr. N. M. Karamzin Lett. Russ. Traveler iv. 261   In both the towns and villages, all the houses are brick, with the roofs, and unpainted. Everywhere you see the smoke of earth coal.
2001   R. Hannesson Investing for Sustainability i. 3   The story of how iron came to be made with earth coal instead of charcoal involved many failed experiments and entrepreneurs who went broke.

a1552—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth connection   n. an electrical connection to earth (sense 6a).

1849   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 139 61   Each wire has an earth connection at its two extremities, and when a current is made to pass along the wire by means of the galvanic battery, it returns by the conducting power of the earth.
1938   Times 6 Oct. 9/5 (advt.)    Here is the ideal set for immediate use in the home or office. It can be taken instantly to any room or floor and switched on at once, requiring no aerial or earth connections.
1993   Collins Compl. DIY Man. (new ed.) xi. 508/5   You cannot test a double-insulated appliance, as it has no earth connection in the plug.

1849—1993(Hide quotations)


  earth-conscious adj. (also with capital initial in the first element) aware of and sensitive towards environmental issues; cf. eco-conscious adj. at eco- comb. form 3b.

1970   Prospector (Univ. of Texas at El Paso) 27 Feb. 2   Earth conscious protestors tried to save trees from being destroyed in the name of a bigger football stadium.
2006   Time Out N.Y. 17 Aug. 57/1   All inside a shop that runs on ‘earth-conscious’ power sources.

1970—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth current   n.  (a) an electric current flowing in the earth, which can affect telegraph wires so as to interfere with signal transmission;  (b) a current flowing to earth through an earthed conductor or an earth connection.

1858   Mechanics' Mag. 16 Oct. 364/1   If this earth current were at all constant in its quantities or direction, it would be quite easy to compensate for it.
1925   H. C. Booth tr. F. Auerbach Mod. Magnetics (U.K. ed.) vii. 147   The deflection..can..also be caused by the discharge current in static electricity, or by Hertzian waves or by earth currents.
1961   M. G. Say Electr. Engineer's Ref. Bk. (ed. 10) i. 116   The most usual fault is a breakdown between a line and earth, producing a condition of unbalance involving unequal phase currents and voltages and a more or less important ‘residual’ earth current.
2008   G. Ziegler Numerical Distance Protection (ed. 3) v. 269   In meshed networks, additional care must be taken because the earth-current is split between several lines.

1858—2008(Hide quotations)


  earth dam   n. a dam in the form of an embankment of compacted natural materials such as soil and gravel, often with a core or lining of impermeable material such as clay puddle or concrete; cf. earth-fill dam n. at earth fill n. Compounds.

1802   Explan. Plan Improvem. Harbour Bristol (City Corporation) 3   An Earth Dam across the Avon at Canon's Marsh, to be formed from the Earth excavated from Canon's Marsh.
1920   A. W. Grabau Textbk. Geol. xv. 398   By the final overflow of the lake-water, and the accompanying destruction of the earth dam, disastrous floods may sweep the valley below.
2007   M. Parker Panama Fever xxiv. 441   The principle of earth dams is based on the fact that most clays are impervious.

1802—2007(Hide quotations)


  earth day   n.  (a) a day on earth; (chiefly Astronomy and Science Fiction) a day as measured on earth (cf. day n. 2a);  (b) (with capital initials) a day dedicated to celebrating the earth's natural environment and promoting environmentalism.Earth Day is often observed on 22 April, the date of the first such event in 1970.

1856   Arthur's Home Mag. Aug. 87/1   The day's wearisome work came at last to its close, as..all the earth-days must.
1863   J. D. Dana Man. Geol. 744   A Deity working in creation, like a day-laborer, by earth-days of twenty-four hours..is a belittling conception.
1954   C. Oliver in W. F. Nolan Edge of Forever (1971) 143   The ten Earth-days of the Venusian night had been busy and full.
1970   N.Y. Times 18 Jan. iv. 5 (advt.)    April 22. Earth Day.
1990   P. Moore Mission to Planets 11   The planets move round the sun at various distances, in periods ranging from 88 Earth-days for Mercury up to 248 years for Pluto.
2008   B. A. Lewis Teen Guide to Global Action 85/2   Celebrate Earth Day... Regardless of when you mark the occasion, be sure to do something to help the planet on its special day.

1856—2008(Hide quotations)


  earth-eating   n. and adj.  (a) n. the practice of eating earth, geophagy;  (b) adj. that eats earth.

1809   J. Montgomery in J. Montgomery et al. Poems Abolition Slave Trade 50   It is remarkable that ‘earth-eating’, as it is called, is an infectious, and even a social malady.
1852   T. Ross tr. A. von Humboldt Personal Narr. Trav. Amer. II. xxiv. 499   These examples of earth-eating in the torrid zone appear very strange.
1869   tr. F. A. Pouchet Universe (1871) 22   There are a tolerably large number of earth-eating tribes in North America.
2001   Africa News (Nexis) 18 June   Haemoglobin and ferritin levels were significantly lower among earth eating women.
2002   W. M. Geserland & R. A. Kearns Culture/Place/Health 123   John Hunter..traced the origins and diffusion of geophagy or earth-eating in Africa and the USA.

1809—2002(Hide quotations)


  earth flax   n. now disused asbestos.

1649   C. Hoole Easie Entrance Lat. Tongue ii. 162/1   Earth-flax.
1685   Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 15 1056   It being calld in general Linum fossile; in English, Earth-flax and in particular Linum Indicum by Cœlius Rhodiginus.
1728   J. Woodward Fossils All Kinds 14   English talc, of which the coarser sort is call'd Plaister, or Parget, the finer, Spaad, Earth-Flax, or Salamander's Hair.
1914   J. D. Sawyer How to make Country Place vi. 236   Asbestos (earth flax) and mineral wool..were used wherever there was danger of a charred timber.

1649—1914(Hide quotations)


  earthflow   n. motion of a saturated mass of fine-grained sediment down a slope, esp. when made fluid by excessive rainfall; an instance of this.Technically earthflow is usually regarded as being faster than creep (creep n. 6a) and slower than mudflow.

1938   Geogr. Rev. 28 350   Most of the denudation was due to mass movement—slow, downhill soil-creep, earthflow, and slumping.
1979   B. J. Knapp Elem. Geogr. Hydrol. iv. 61/2   Solifluction..is equivalent to a slow earthflow in temperate regions.
2008   Ottawa Citizen (Nexis) 17 Apr. c1   A 17-hectare swath of land adjacent to the town slid into the river in an ‘earthflow’ when the marine clay suddenly liquefied.

1938—2008(Hide quotations)


earth-foam   n. Mineralogy Obsolete a soft variety of the mineral calcite; = aphrite n.

1827   J. L. Comstock Elements Mineral. 92 (heading)    Aphrite. Earth foam.
1872   H. Watts Dict. Chem. I. 349   A soft friable variety of it [sc. aphrite] called earth-foam.

1827—1872(Hide quotations)


  earth-fold   n. now rare a fold in geological strata.  [Compare German Erdfalte (1888 or earlier; also 1857 or earlier describing a topographical feature more generally).]

1885   Amer. Naturalist 19 264   Are we prepared to admit that the globe actually contracted to that extent during the formation of the Appalachian earth-folds?
1918   Geogr. Jrnl. 52 2   These iron tracks [sc. railways] may surmount difficult and lofty ranges; or may burrow their way through the earth-folds.
1949   Our Industry (Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.) (ed. 2) 323 (Gloss.)   Anticline, an earth-fold in which the strata are uplifted in the form of an arch.

1885—1949(Hide quotations)


  earth fork   n. a digging fork.

1833   Examiner 20 Jan. 1/1   I..contented myself with separating the central portion [of the potato], as I should have done had it been wounded in digging up with an earth fork, and then ate the remainder.
1968   Ada (Okla.) Weekly News 7 Mar. 4/7   Thinking of fishing makes one dream of rocking in a boat instead of slaving with an earth fork and hoe.

1833—1968(Hide quotations)


  earth-friendly adj. (also with capital initial in the first element) = environmentally friendly adj. at environmentally adv. Compounds.

1989   Marketing 27 Apr. 26/2   On the back side of the pack, this declaration of greenness would be qualified by information explaining exactly in what way the product was earth friendly.
1991   Garbage Jan.–Feb. 80/3   Ask yourself a few questions as you peruse merchandise stamped with Earth-friendly slogans.
2001   T. H. Culley Immortal Class (2002) xii. 318   We should..let these immediate improvements have their long-term, earth-friendly consequences.

1989—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth girl   n. a girl who dwells on earth, as opposed to in heaven, the sea, etc.; (now) spec.(chiefly Science Fiction) a (young) female inhabitant or native of the planet earth; cf. earthwoman n. 3.

1858   Herald of Light June 57   The Heaven-girls are fond and true; the earth-girls are too often inconstant and cold at heart.
1903   Reader Mar. 468/2   The next [tale relates] how a small sea-maiden and a little earth-girl changed places.
1911   H. K. Vielé Girl from Mercury in Wit & Humor of Amer. IV. 793   The fancy took me to suspend intuition just to see how Earth girls feel.
2008   Sunday Star (Nexis) 6 July 27   The Man of Steel may have a rod of iron but his powers mean he could never make love to a normal earth girl.

1858—2008(Hide quotations)


earth-glacier   n. Obsolete rare a slow-moving mass of saturated rock debris.

1894   J. Geikie Great Ice Age (ed. 3) xxxv. 600   Vast quantities of rock-rubbish would thus gradually collect at the base of the Rock [of Gibraltar], and when the snow melted in summer, the rubbish, becoming saturated, would move forward en masse, like the so-called earth-glaciers of the Rocky Mountains.

1894—1894(Hide quotations)


  earth god   n. a god associated with or symbolic of the earth.  [Compare German Erdgott, †Erdengott (mid 17th cent. or earlier; compare also Old High German ertcot, with reference to the classical god Tellurus).]

1610   J. Healey tr. St. Augustine Citie of God vii. xxviii. 289   How can those heauen-gods now be earth-gods, or these earth-gods haue roomes aboue or reference to heauen?
1871   A. C. Swinburne Songs before Sunrise 148   The earth-god Freedom.
1904   Folk-Lore Sept. 312   As an embodiment of the earth-god the king was responsible for the fruits of the earth.
1996   J. Brown Hong Kong & Macau: Rough Guide (ed. 3) 93   Protectors of the local community, Earth Gods have been worshipped for centuries on the mainland.

1610—1996(Hide quotations)


  earth goddess   n. a goddess associated with or symbolic of the earth; cf. earth mother n. 1.  [In quot. 1835   after German Erdgöttin (1833 in the passage translated; < Erdgott   (see earth god n.) + -in  -en suffix2).]

1835   tr. C. O. Müller Diss. Eumenides of Æschylus 162   This district, which abounded in very ancient temples of the Earth-goddesses [Ger. Erdgöttinnen].
1958   C. Achebe Things fall Apart v. 31   It was an occasion for giving thanks to Ani, the earth goddess and the source of all fertility.
1996   F. Popcorn & L. Marigold Clicking ii. 131   One of the American Indian targets is the Church of Gaia, named after a Greek earth goddess, which blends Indian rituals with ecology.

1835—1996(Hide quotations)


  earth history   n.  [compare German Erdgeschichte (second half of the 18th cent.)] the geological history of the earth.

1880   A. R. Wallace Island Life 83   The opposite belief, which is now rapidly gaining ground among the students of earth-history.
1958   R. C. Moore Introd. Hist. Geol. (ed. 2) iv. 59   The first major division of earth history determinable from rocks exposed at the surface is the Cryptozoic Eon.
2006   Science 24 Mar. 1747/2   These changes..led us to reexamine the climate associated with the last major sea-level rise above modern levels that occurred in Earth history.

1880—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth hut   n.  (a) a dwelling or shelter which is fully or partially underground (cf. earth house n. 1a); now chiefly historical;  (b) a hut made of earth (cf. earth house n. 1b).

1814   G. H. von Langsdorff Voy. & Trav. ii. i. 26   The earth huts we make are very warm.
1863   Chambers's Encycl. V. 787/2   Khiva..consists almost entirely of earth-huts, not excepting the residence of the khan, the only brick buildings being three mosques.
1970   D. A. Avdusin in Varangian Probl. 104   The Russian towns usually contain the remains of semi-subterranean timber-lined earth huts.
1999   Guardian (Nexis) 16 June 15   Most of Qunu's residents still live in earth huts with thatched or iron roofs.

1814—1999(Hide quotations)


  earth inductor   n. Physics a device for investigating the earth's magnetic field, consisting essentially of a coil of wire that can be rapidly turned about an axis in its own plane so as to induce an electric current in it that depends on the magnetic field; frequently attributive.

1871   Jrnl. Franklin Inst. 91 350   The third method demands a knowledge of the coil surface of an earth inductor, and the absolute intensity of the earth's magnetism.
1953   C. A. Lindbergh Spirit of St. Louis ii. vi. 182   Plane ready; engine ready; earth-inductor compass set on course.
1966   McGraw-Hill Encycl. Sci. & Technol. (rev. ed.) IV. 338/2   The earth inductor has almost completely supplanted the dip circle throughout the world for precise measurement of magnetic inclination.
2004   D. Radcliffe & A. Mahood Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 vi. 125   The plane's rotating coil earth inductor compass should keep you on course.

1871—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth lead   n. an electrical lead which is connected to earth (sense 6a).

1899   U.S. Patent 623,033 1/2   From the top part a double earth-lead branches off, being..soldered with rod, whereby a well conducting connection is attained.
2001   Bristol Evening Post (Nexis) 17 Jan. 5   A wiring diagram embossed on the bottom of the socket could mislead people into connecting the live lead to earth and the earth lead to the live terminal.

1899—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth leakage   n. a flow of electric current from a live conductor to earth, esp. as a result of imperfect insulation; frequently attributive, designating devices designed to respond to or prevent this, esp. ones that respond to voltage rather than current; cf. residual current device n. at residual adj. Compounds.

1887   Jrnl. Soc. Telegraph-engineers & Electricians 16 185   The Board of Trade regulations..made special provision that these mains should be completely detached from the houses at the time the electric light was in use in those houses, and in this manner the dangers from earth leakages would be minimised.
1935   Jrnl. Sci. Instruments 12 51   A simple earth-leakage trip relay for incorporation in domestic apparatus.
1985   C. S. Ward Anaesthetic Equipm. (ed. 2) xix. 313/1   The second method of improving safety is to install a current-operated earth-leakage circuit breaker.
2004   P. Hymers New Home Builder xi. 214   RCDs are residual circuit breakers that immediately trip out the supply if an earth leakage is detected.

1887—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth life   n.  (a) terrestrial as opposed to spiritual existence;  (b) life on the planet earth.  [After German Erdenleben terrestrial life, especially as opposed to spiritual life (second half of the 18th cent. or earlier); compare Old High German erdlīb, in the same sense, and also Old Saxon erðlīf (in erðlībigiskapu (plural) fates of earthly life).]

1842   W. Howitt Student-Life Germany v. 93   This is unquestionably the highest misery in this earth-life, if the affairs of God, through guilt, come to a dead pause in their lively developement.
1906   Daily Chron. 28 May 3/4   One brief day—as long as seven years of this earth-life.
1958   New Statesman 15 Mar. 353/2   The spy from Outer Space..will be happy to discover..an authentic smell, that is, of mid-century earth-life in general.
2007   Irish Times (Nexis) 28 June 25   He is the player who will curse the planetary interaction that overlapped his earth life with that of Roger Federer.

1842—2007(Hide quotations)


  earth-line   n. the line where the earth and sky appear to meet, the horizon; cf. skyline n. 1.

1850   S. Judd Richard Edney xxii. 250   My teacher..used to instruct us that there was an earth-line of the sky, as well as a sky-line of the earth.
1907   R. Kipling Twenty Poems (1918) 2   They are concerned with matters hidden—under the earth-line their altars are.
1952   N. Nicholson in C. Dyment New Poems 63   A day with sky so wide, So stripped of cloud..that you can see The earth-line as a curve.

1850—1952(Hide quotations)


  earth loop   n. an unwanted loop of current in a circuit resulting from a potential difference between two earthed connections, typically causing interference which (in an audio system) creates a humming sound.

1932   Brit. Patent 371,861 4/2   Figures 4 and 5 show circuits without earth loops, in which two oppositely directed rectifiers Zt and Zs are provided in the subscriber's station.
1968   Lancet 15 June 1262/1   The possibility of earth loops was noted in relation to other equipment to which the patient might be attached.
2003   A. Nisbett Sound Studio (ed. 7) ix. 177   Hum may..be caused by making connections by separate paths to a common earth, which creates an earth loop that picks up signals from power lines.

1932—2003(Hide quotations)


earth-marl   n. Obsolete marl containing a large proportion of clay.

1803   J. Ainslie in A. Hunter et al. Georgical Ess. I. xvii. 226   A very considerable number of earth-marls are of a stony hardness.
1834   Brit. Husbandry (Libr. Useful Knowl.) I. xiii. 311   The origin of earth-marl is a subject of curious inquiry.

1803—1834(Hide quotations)


  earth-measure   n. rare measurement, or a measure, of the shape (or other parameter) of the earth.

1570   J. Dee in H. Billingsley tr. Euclid Elements Geom. xii. sig. 388v   It was nedefull for Mechanicall earthmeasures, not to be ignorant of the measure and contents of the circle.
1946   H. McKay World of Numbers i. 15   There is another earth measure that has intrigued men from of old, the tilt of the earth's axis.
1999   C. Hoffman Seven Story Tower v. 93   The Mesopotamians were the first to make maps with north oriented up and south down, creating a correspondence between Earth-measure (geography) to Skymeasure (astronomy).

1570—1999(Hide quotations)


  earth-measuring   n.  [after ancient Greek γεωμετρία geometry n.] now historical measurement of the shape (or other parameter) of the earth.Frequently as a literal gloss for geometry.

1570   J. Dee in H. Billingsley tr. Euclid Elements Geom. xii. sig. 388v   Geometria, that is, Earthmeasuring.
1856   Mechanics' Mag. 25 Oct. 393/2   Earth-measuring appears to have been a favourite occupation of the French.
1921   J. Dewey Democracy & Educ. (new ed.) xv. 236   Mathematics is now a highly abstract science; geometry, however, means literally earth-measuring.
2006   G. Danson Weighing the World 205   In the year Topping set off on his survey of the Indian coast, far away, in Italy, Boscovish's successors were also engaged in earth measuring.

1570—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth–moon adj. Astronomy (attributive) designating the system in which the earth and moon are the only gravitationally significant bodies; of or relating to this system.

1882   Amer. Jrnl. Sci. 124 336   The earth–moon system may have been developed from the time when the earth–moon formed one planet revolving on its axis in a few hours.
1930   J. H. Jeans Universe around Us (ed. 2) iv. 225   Tidal friction has in all probability been mainly responsible for the present configuration of the earth–moon system.
2002   P. C. Plait Bad Astron. vii. 68   The center of the Earth is orbiting the Earth–Moon barycenter.

1882—2002(Hide quotations)


  earth-oil n. petroleum, natural mineral oil.  [After Malay minyak tanah petroleum, bitumen ( < minyak   oil + tanah   ground). Compare the similarly-formed post-classical Latin petroleum  petroleum n.   Compare also Dutch aardolie (1701 as aerdoly with reference to Indonesia; after either Latin or Malay), German Erdöl (1741; after Latin).]

1732   Coll. Voy. & Trav. II. 191/1   A certain spring of sulphurous liquor..not unlike a Petroleum: The Indians call this liquor Minjah Tunnah, e.i. earth-oil.
1755   Baker in Dalrymple Or. Rep. I. 172   In this place [sc. ‘Raynan-Gome’ in Burma] there are about 200 Families..employed in getting Earth-oil out of Pitts.
1861   All Year round 30 Mar. 105   A large earthen cup filled with earth-oil for the night watches.
1934   ‘G. Orwell’ Burmese Days ii. 21   Inside, the Club was a teak-walled place smelling of earth-oil.
2000   A. Ghosh Glass Palace (2001) x. 122   To the people of the area [around Mount Popa, Burma] this ooze was known as earth-oil: it was a dark, shimmering green.

1732—2000(Hide quotations)


  earth orbit   n.  (a) the orbit of the earth around the sun (obsolete rare);  (b) an orbit around the earth.

1872   Manch. Weekly Times 20 Jan. Suppl. 23/2   The proportion [of the meteor-cloud] which the earth orbit crosses at present, is..a tenuous tail behind the more densely crowded central group.
1914   H. C. Vedder Reformation in Germany i. i. 16   How often has the world..hailed some new light as a morning star that was to usher in the longed-for day;..until, at last, convinced that it is only some wanderer moving in a narrow earth orbit, men have turned away from it in the bitterness of despair.
1967   New Scientist 9 Feb. 325/1   Russian scientists..have spoken of the importance of manned space-stations in Earth-orbit.
2002   Science 15 Nov. 1321/1   The spacecraft itself operated perfectly after launch, but something—presumably its rocket motor—blew it apart as it rocketed out of Earth orbit.

1872—2002(Hide quotations)


  earth-orbiting adj. that is in orbit around the earth.

1954   Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram 9 Dec. b11/1   If there are any earth orbiting meteors—the bodies which would make ideal space ports for our use—this group should discover them.
1986   Sci. Amer. Apr. 21/3   Its location would enable it to track only some 10 percent of earth-orbiting satellites.
2008   Washington Post (Nexis) 13 July b3   Let's begin the process of turning the ISS from an Earth-orbiting caterpillar into an interplanetary butterfly.

1954—2008(Hide quotations)


  earth pigment   n. = earth colour n. 1.

1900   Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Republican 4 Nov. 9/6   The cave is rich in colors, for it is in the region of mineral paints where the Indians gathered many of their earth pigments.
1923   L. C. Martin Colour vi. 73   Generally speaking, the ‘earth pigments’ are the most stable and satisfactory.
1990   Green Mag. Apr. 78/1 (caption)    Auro is the primary manufacturer of organic paints..made from natural and raw materials (such as..earth pigments).

1900—1990(Hide quotations)


  earth pillar   n. a column of soft rock or earth formed by erosion or other natural agency, typically having a cap of harder rock; cf. hoodoo n. 5, spire n.1 7a.

1795   D. Walker Gen. View Agric. Herts. 11   The earth-pillars have been found to descend 50 feet and upwards.
1885   P. M. Duncan Lyell's Student's Elem. Geol. (ed. 4) vi. 82   Earth-pillars with stones on their tops are relics of the country worn away all around them.
1995   Dominion (Wellington, N.Z.) (Nexis) 3 Jan. 2   Large earth pillars that rise from the valley floor like the pipes of a giant cathedral organ.

1795—1995(Hide quotations)


  earth plane   n. the realm of the living, as opposed to that of the spirits.

1855   E. W. Capron Mod. Spiritualism vi. 114   Multitudes of spirits..had now been granted the privilege of returning to the earth plane.
1917   San Francisco Sunday Chron. 8 July (Mag. section) 6/4   The authenticity of communication between the spirit world and the earth plane.
2002   N. Drury Dict. Esoteric 89/1   The astral bodies of good people are believed to decompose quickly as their spirits move onto a new evolutionary path, but the elementaries of the less evolved tend to cling to the earth plane for a longer time.

1855—2002(Hide quotations)


earth-planet   n.  [ < earth n.1 + ancient Greek πλάνητ-, πλάνης wanderer (see planet n.)] Obsolete a vagabond, a wanderer.

1591   J. Florio Second Frutes 141   Children, whores, and fugitiues..A man must not beleeue these runagate earth~planets.
1611   R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues   Villotier, a vagabond, land-loper, earth-planet, continuall gadder from towne to towne.

1591—1611(Hide quotations)


  earth plate   n. a metal plate buried in the earth or submerged in the sea so as to serve as an earth connection (as part of an earth return or as a safety feature).

1847   Brett & Little Compendium Improvements Electr. Telegraphs 22   An earth plate..which carries the current back by the conducting powers of the earth.
1870   Nature 5 May 12/2   All owners of important isolated stations should use earth-plates at sea, and at sea only.
1913   Times Engin. Suppl. 18 June 23/4   The writer has made experiments with a small transmitting set, using no antenna, but merely wires terminating in small earth plates.
1998   M. J. Heathcote & D. P. Franklin J & P Transformer Bk. (ed. 12) vi. 418   Earth plates are usually made of galvanized cast iron..or of copper... In small installations, driven mild steel pipes..are sometimes employed.

1847—1998(Hide quotations)


  earth-rind   n.  [compare German Erdrinde, scientific term for the earth's crust (mid 18th cent.)] chiefly literary (now rare) the earth's crust; also figurative.

1827   S. T. Coleridge Marginalia (1998) IV. 491   In the ante-diluvian Ages..the Earth-rind on which they [sc. men] lived, might have been like a Pewter warming-plate.
1850   T. Carlyle Latter-day Pamphlets iv. 8   On what a bottomless volcano..separated from us by a thin earth-rind, Society..in the present epoch, rests!
1871   G. Hartwig Subterranean World i. 5   The history of the earth-rind opens to us a vista into time.
1941   G. Schuster & G. Wint India & Democracy i. xi. 210   The problem in India is to remake its political system without letting loose one of these fiery outbreaks. But the Earth-rind is dangerously thin.

1827—1941(Hide quotations)


  earth sack   n.  [probably after French sac à terre (see quot. 1702 for earth bag n.)] = earth bag n.

1708   London Gaz. No. 4471/2   We began..to fill the Fosse..with Fascines and Earth-Sacks.
1871   W. P. Fetridge Rise & Fall Paris Commune 1871 viii. 248   General Bergeret..was ordered by the Commune to place 20,000 earth-sacks at the disposal of Colonel Henry.
1915   Indianapolis Star 21 May 2/5   There was a third line of these defenses along the bank of the canal, abundantly protected by earth sacks and obstacles.
1998   Santa Fe New Mexican (Nexis) 3 May r28   The south wall and interior walls will be done with ‘earth sacks’—building blocks made by filling sandbags with earth and a little water.

1708—1998(Hide quotations)


  earth satellite   n. a satellite in orbit around the earth, esp. an artificial one.

1949   Rocket Jet Flying Spring 6   The ‘earth satellite vehicle program’..is the most imagination-firing news we've heard in quite a while.
1956   Collier's Year-bk. 48/2   Plans to launch an earth satellite were announced in the middle of 1955.
1969   Jrnl. Brit. Astron. Assoc. 79 263   The Cyrillids [sc. a meteor shower] had been due to the decay of temporary natural Earth satellites.
2000   H. W. Thistle & J. W. Barry in C. D. Whiteman Mountain Meteorol. xiv. 278   GPS, is a..system that uses signals transmitted from a constellation of polar orbiting earth satellites to determine position on the surface of the earth.

1949—2000(Hide quotations)


  earth sculpture   n. the physical processes by which the form of the earth's surface is altered.

1874   A. Geikie (title)    Earth sculpture and the Huttonian school of geology.
1874   Jrnl. Amer. Geogr. Soc. 6 207   The leveling down of these mountains, has been going on for infinite ages... This is what may be called ‘earth sculpture’.
1954   Sci. News 33 67   The processes of earth sculpture operating in periglacial conditions..produce deposits and landforms of a special type.
2006   B. A. Kennedy Inventing Earth 132   He [sc. C. Lyell] never fully accepted the role of rivers or land ice in Earth sculpture and was distinctly lukewarm to Darwin's evolutionary theory.

1874—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth-sheltered adj. protected or shielded by earth; (Architecture) constructed to take advantage of the insulating properties of earth, as by being covered with a layer of earth, or recessed into the ground, a hillside, etc.

1862   N.-Y. Tribune 26 Apr. in F. Moore Rebellion Rec. IV. ii. 492/2   Although one is a stone castle and the other an earth-sheltered work, a comparison between the nature and results of the two sieges would not be unfair.
1977   Wisconsin State Jrnl. 14 May (Classified section) p. N/6   South facing hillsides for solar, earth-sheltered homes.
1995   Mail on Sunday (Nexis) 26 Mar. 37   The houses will be earth-sheltered on three sides for insulation.
2002   D. D. Chiras Solar House i. 41   Below the frost line, the ground stays a fairly constant 50°F... An earth-sheltered house takes advantage of this phenomenon and remains at a fairly constant temperature year-round.

1862—2002(Hide quotations)


  earth sheltering   n. Architecture the practice or principle of using earth to provide insulation; cf. earth-sheltered adj.

1979   Chicago Tribune 25 Mar. v. 15/6   Earth sheltering must also overcome psychological barriers to living ‘underground’.
1994   BBC Vegetarian Good Food Aug. 35/1 (advt.)    The renovation and construction of houses which incorporate energy saving features or other advanced green building technologies such as earth-sheltering.
2001   S. Roaf et al. Ecohouse (2002) vi. 132   In earth-sheltered structures all or part of the building is sunk into the ground... An excellent introduction to the principals [sic] of earth sheltering is Sod It, by Peter Carpenter.

1979—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth shock   n.  [compare earlier earthquake n.] (originally) an earthquake; (in later use) an earth tremor; a seismic wave.

1816   Ld. Byron Siege Corinth xxxiii. 53   All the living things that heard That deadly earth shock disappeared.
1887   Times 24 June 13/3   Several places in the direction of Tashkend have suffered all the horrors of the earth shock.
1909   Westm. Gaz. 16 Aug. 8/2   Watch the papers today for news of an earth shock.
1979   Science 27 Apr. 374/2   In Summerville..loud explosive noises and light earth shocks were experienced several days before the earthquake.
1999   Jrnl. Loss Prevention in Process Industries 12 456/1   The sound of the explosion and the earth shocks reached as far as Bayreuth, at a distance of 145 miles.

1816—1999(Hide quotations)


  earth shrinkage   n. Geology (now rare) a hypothesized contraction of the earth over time, formerly attributed to a cooling of the earth's interior and used to explain the formation of mountain ranges.

1898   Nebraska State Jrnl. 23 Feb. 5/6   Slight additions to the mass of the earth are constantly made by the arrest of meteoric bodies passing through the atmosphere. Their influence is opposed to and rends to neutralize that of any earth shrinkage that may be going on.
1926   R. S. Lull Org. Evol. 687   Back of these climatic changes lies, as one of the great fundamental causes, earth shrinkage, with a consequent warping of the crust which produces mountain ranges.
1942   Science 16 Jan. 72/1   Dr. Gamow ascribes mountain-making to earth shrinkage, although he correctly computes as extremely small the amount of such shrinkage.

1898—1942(Hide quotations)


  earth sign   n. Astrology any of the three zodiac signs associated with the element earth, (cf. sense 15), Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn; (also) a person born under one of these signs.

1892   Lucifer 15 June 286   Taurus an ‘earth’ sign, is polarized by Scorpio, a ‘water’ sign.
1901   Fort Wayne (Indiana) Jrnl.-Gaz. 19 May 13/4   Virgo is an earth sign: Aquarius, like Gemini, is an air sign.
2002   S. Perera Do Right Thing 47   She was thorough. Well she would be, as an earth sign.

1892—2002(Hide quotations)


  earthslide   n. the sliding down of a mass of rock and soil from a mountain or cliff side; the steep face exposed by this, or the material so fallen; = landslip n.

1829   W. Scott Anne of Geierstein I. ii. 41   You have come along the edge of the precipice which the earth-slide hath laid bare.
1832   C. J. Latrobe Pedestrian ix. 337   I stood upon the brink of one of those tremendous earth-slides which are frequently met with in those portions of the Alps.
1960   Daily Chron. (Centralia, Washington) 12 Mar. 10/4   An earthslide approximately 30 feet long and 6 to 12 feet deep covered the..road.
2005   H.-L. Paus in T. Glade et al. Landslide Hazard & Risk 275   The initiation of earthslides by earthquakes has been underestimated in the past.

1829—2005(Hide quotations)


  earthslip   n. = earthslide n.

1859   Photographic News 5 Aug. 256/2   To begin first with large faces of rocks, gulleys, crevices, earth slips,..it will require some preparatory study.
1883   G. Vigfusson & F. Y. Powell Corpus Poeticum Boreale I. 524   The king was buried under an earth-slip.
1997   Trail May 54/3   Tramp over gorse and heather to rejoin the coast path near Great Red—a massive earthslip.
2003   Kent & Sussex Courier (Nexis) 17 Jan. 6   Although there was an earthslip there was no immediate danger to trains on either line.

1859—2003(Hide quotations)


  earth soul   n.  [with sense (a)   compare earlier world-soul n. at world n. Compounds 8]  (a) the soul of the earth, the animating principle of the universe (cf. anima mundi n.);  (b) the soul of a human or earth-dweller.

1846   Amer. Whig Rev. Feb. 130/2   This lower, or Earth Soul is likewise creative.
1871   A. C. Swinburne Songs before Sunrise 149   The earth-soul Freedom, that only Lives, and that only is God.
1912   W. James Ess. Radical Empiricism iv. 136   Speculations like Fechner's, of an Earth-soul, of wider spans of consciousness enveloping narrower ones throughout the cosmos, are..philosophically quite in order.
1948   C. Day Lewis Poems 1943–7 64   You might well surmise They are earth-souls.
2000   W. Wachhorst Dream of Spaceflight i. 15   The wild-minded apriorist [sc. Johannes Kepler] whose speculations had included an Earth soul and radiations from the planets that shaped human lives.

1846—2000(Hide quotations)


  earth spirit   n. a spirit, fairy, or other supernatural being associated with the earth or (more generally) with nature.

1809   Supernatural Mag. Aug. 69   Wood spirits, field spirits, mountain spirits, fire spirits, air spirits, earth spirits, [etc.].
1912   E. Thurston Omens & Superstitions S. India vii. 214   Human sacrifice is considered efficacious in appeasing the earth spirit, and in warding off devils during the construction of a new railway.
2003   Express & Echo (Exeter) (Nexis) 21 Aug. 15   The musical showcase opened yesterday with a pagan religious ceremony meant to welcome the Earth spirits to the site.

1809—2003(Hide quotations)


  earth spring   n. in electrical equipment: a spring with an earth connection.

1868   London, Edinb., & Dublin Philos. Mag. 4th Ser. 35 66   One of these springs (the earth-spring) is connected with the earth.
2006   U.S. Patent 7,151,503 B2 3   An earth spring is mounted on the cable substrate.

1868—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth station   n. a radio station located on the ground, esp. one used for relaying signals received from communications satellites.

1935   Science 5 July 5/1   From beginning to end of the flight the balloon was in radio communication with the ground. The balloon's radio station was called ‘Luna’ and the earth station ‘Venus’.
1977   J. McPhee Coming into Country ii. 164   Alaska is attempting to solve the problem with RCA earth stations that are trained on satellites.
2006   Guardian (Nexis) 27 Dec. 9   The satellite side of Goonhilly, the largest earth station in the world, is facing almost certain closure.

1935—2006(Hide quotations)

1822   E. J. Willson Gloss. Gothic Archit. 14/1 in A. Pugin Specimens Gothic Archit. (1823) II.   We meet with several particular tables in old accounts. As the earth-table, or ground-table, for the basement, or lowest course of stone above the foundation.
1833   J. Dallaway Disc. Archit. Eng. 175   Earth tablebase tablets—‘a course without’, the first horizontal moulding above the ground.
1860   Archaeol. Jrnl. June 130   The base moulding of the tower is simply chamfered, and has a very weak effect by the side of the bold earth-table of the earlier building.
1996   W. Bucher Dict. Building Preserv. 269/2   Ledgment table, the lowest horizontal molding on the exterior of a building, except for the earth table.

1822—1996(Hide quotations)


  earth-threatening adj. that puts the existence of the earth in danger.

1594   C. Marlowe & T. Nashe Dido i. sig. A2   This earth threatning aire, That shaken thrise, makes Natures buildings quake.
1980   Los Angeles Times 7 Dec. vi. 5/2   In last year's ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, unknown aliens transformed our long-lost Voyager probe into an Earth-threatening monster.
1996   Nature 25 Apr. p. vii/1   A mechanism by which this asteroid and others might be perturbed into Earth-threatening orbits.

1594—1996(Hide quotations)


  earth tilting   n. a gradual flexing of the earth's surface, thought to precede a large earthquake.

1886   Encycl. Brit. XXI. 626/2   The ground is subject to other movements. Some..which may be called ‘earth-tiltings’, show themselves by a slow bending and unbending of the surface.
1959   Jrnl. Atmospheric & Terrestr. Physics 16 399   The relation between earth tilting and subsequent shocks in the Tolmezzo records.

1886—1959(Hide quotations)


  earth time   n.  (a) the time during which the earth has been in existence;  (b) time as measured on earth.

1857   P. St. G. Cooke Scenes & Adventures in Army xiv. 365   The starry hosts which sang together before the face of God, ere Earth-time began.
1951   A. C. Clarke Sands of Mars ii. 15   We keep normal Earth-time—Greenwich Meridian—aboard the [space-]ship.
2001   J. Robbins Food Revol. iii. xiv. 259   In what by any measure of Earth time is a mere microsecond, we have raised the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 25 percent.
2006   Geelong (Austral.) Advertiser (Nexis) 12 Jan. 24   It takes Saturn a little more than 29 years, in Earth time, to orbit the Sun.

1857—2006(Hide quotations)


  earth tremor   n.  [compare earlier earthquake n.] a shaking or movement of the ground; a mild earthquake, esp. one of several preceding a major earthquake.

1819   in R. Orton Ess. Epidemic Cholera of India (1831) 264   This change in the seasons was accompanied on the 22d, 23d, and 24th..with midnight earth-tremors.
1886   Encycl. Brit. XXI. 629/1   This kind of action has..been turned to account as a means of detecting very minute earth tremors by Rossi.
1951   Sci. Monthly Apr. 247/1   The 1949 eruption of Ngauruhoe began at about 2:30 on the morning of February 9, following..a premonitory earth tremor.
2001   Hist. Scotl. Winter 23/1   Minor earth tremors were common leading to rock fall and landslips.

1819—2001(Hide quotations)


  earth waller   n. a person who builds earth or clay walls.

1477   in L. T. Smith York Plays (1885) p. xxi   Garthyners, erthe wallers, pavers, dykers.
2004   Oxf. Times 19 Nov. 25/1   Rural craft workers, including..earth wallers.

1477—2004(Hide quotations)


  earth wave   n. now rare a seismic wave.

1848   Preston Guardian & Lancs. Advertiser 1 Jan. 7/1   That earth wave which lifted up the land under Lisbon, destroyed nearly the whole of the town, and communicated itself in every direction.
1878   T. H. Huxley Physiography (ed. 2) 188   [In earthquakes] near the sea the water waves may be far more destructive than the earth waves.
1907   19th Cent. & After Aug. 220   The unfelt earth-waves through and around the globe.
2007   Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 11 Jan. b6/4   The earth wave passed under the hotel in front of us, and the building instantly fell down.

1848—2007(Hide quotations)


  earth wax n. a natural form of paraffin wax; = ozokerite n.  [After German Erdwachs (Glocker 1833 in the article cited at ozokerite n.); compare earlier fossil wax n. at fossil n. and adj. Compounds 2, mineral wax n. at mineral adj. Compounds 1.]

1881   U.S. Patent 236,198 1/1   There are several of these resins known under various local names. They are, for instance..the ‘ozokerit’ or ‘earth-wax,’ from Moldavia.
1958   W. T. O'Dea Social Hist. Lighting 216   Ozokerit, or ‘earth~wax’, found in the region of the Roumanian oil wells, later proved..superior, at a price, to paraffin wax candles.
2008   Org. Geochem. 39 372/2   As a result of their heterogeneity, earth wax, fossil resins,..and shungite are not classified as minerals.

1881—2008(Hide quotations)


  earth-wheeling   n. rare the activity of transporting earth in a wheelbarrow.

1885   Sir R. Rawlinson in Pall Mall Gaz. 17 Jan. 1/2   Stockport, where men had been set to test work at earth-wheeling.

1885—1885(Hide quotations)


  earth white   n. a white pigment obtained from an earth (sense 16).

1908   F. Maire Mod. Pigments iv. 40   Earth whites are so named to distinguish that class of pigments which owe their origin to mother earth in contradistinction to those which are derived from a metallic origin.
1997   M. B. Cohn tr. Old Master Prints & Drawings iii. 63/2   Kaolin, earth white, pumice (aluminum silicate).

1908—1997(Hide quotations)


  earth worship   n.  (a) (apparently) earthiness, preoccupation with the land (obsolete rare);  (b) any of various belief systems in which the earth (or a god or goddess representing the earth) is revered; (also more generally) nature worship, paganism (cf. paganism n. 1c).

1834   T. Carlyle Sartor Resartus iii. x, in Fraser's Mag. Aug. 188/2   Drudgical Earth-worship.
1841   Amer. Eclectic Jan. 79   Of earthworship, and its introduction from the North into the rest of the world.
1920   L. Spence Encycl. Occultism 354/2   Earth worship, or rather the propitiation of earth spirits, was a prominent feature of Scottish paganism.
2005   R. Johnston Staver Compan. Beowulf 151   Human sacrifice was almost certainly a feature of earth worship.

1834—2005(Hide quotations)


  earth-year   n. Astronomy and Science Fiction a year as measured on the earth (= year n. 1a); contrasted with year n. 2d.

1870   J. D. Steele Answers to Pract. Questions & Probl. 253   A Jovian year equals 11.86 earth-years.
1953   E. F. Russell Somewhere a Voice (1965) 18   It would take them most of an Earth-year to reach the fortieth parallel.
2006   S. M. Stirling Sky People xiv. 296   A girl of about ten Earth-years ran by, white-blond hair trailing.

1870—2006(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, November 2010; most recently modified version published online December 2022).

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