À terre – Definition & Meaning

The French phrase “à terre” is commonly used in the English language to describe a situation where a vessel or a person is grounded or beached. The phrase has several meanings and associations that have evolved over time. In this article, we will explore the definition, origin, and various meanings of “à terre.”


À terre is a French term that translates to “on land” in English. It is commonly used to describe a situation where a vessel is grounded or beached. In the context of ballet, à terre refers to movements performed on the ground. It can also mean “ashore” or “onshore” when used in the context of maritime navigation.


The term “à terre” has its roots in the French language, where it has been in use for several centuries. The word “terre” in French means “land,” and the preposition “à” means “on” or “to.” Together, the phrase “à terre” means “on land” or “ashore.”

Meaning in different dictionaries

The phrase “à terre” has different meanings in different dictionaries. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means “on or to the shore.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “ashore” or “on land.” The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as “on the ground” or “beached.”


The phrase “à terre” is often associated with maritime navigation and ballet. In the context of maritime navigation, it refers to a situation where a vessel is grounded or beached. In ballet, it refers to movements performed on the ground, as opposed to jumps or lifts.


Some synonyms of “à terre” include “ashore,” “onshore,” “grounded,” “beached,” and “landed.”


Antonyms of “à terre” include “afloat,” “at sea,” and “in the air.”

The same root words

The French word “terre,” which forms part of the phrase “à terre,” has several other derivatives, including “terrestrial,” “territory,” and “terrain.”

Example Sentences

  1. The ship ran aground and was à terre for several days.
  2. The ballet dancer performed several à terre movements before executing a grand jeté.
  3. The fishing boat was safely à terre after a stormy night at sea.
  4. The sailor was glad to be back à terre after months at sea.
  5. The aircraft was in the air for several hours before landing à terre.
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