April 04, 2020
terra firma (noun)
\teh-ruh-FIRM-uh\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: dry land : solid ground
How do you use it?
"Oh, give me again the rover's life—the joy, the thrill, the whirl! Let me feel thee again, old sea! let me leap into thy saddle once more. I am sick of these terra firma toils and cares; sick of the dust and reek of towns." (Herman Melville, _White-Jacket_)
Are you a word wiz?

History is full of stories about people leaving dry land for sea or sky. Which of these events do you think happened around the time that "terra firma" first started being used as an English word?

You're on solid ground if you chose A! In the early 1600s the European settlers now known as the Pilgrims finished their long voyage across the Atlantic and arrived in North America, establishing a colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Also in the early part of the 1600s the first evidence of "terra firma" being used in print as English appeared. "Terra firma" was borrowed into English from New Latin, its meaning of "solid land" a direct translation. "Terra firma" is sometimes used figuratively as well, as in "After the spirited debate, the teacher was relieved to be back in her classroom on terra firma again."
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