1. used with question words to convey surprise
; - Example: "what on earth are you doing?"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Earth \Earth\ ([~e]rth), n. [AS. eor[eth]e; akin to OS. ertha,
OFries. irthe, D. aarde, OHG. erda, G. erde, Icel.
j["o]r[eth], Sw. & Dan. jord, Goth. a[imac]r[thorn]a, OHG.
ero, Gr. ?, adv., to earth, and perh. to E. ear to plow.]
1. The globe or planet which we inhabit; the world, in
distinction from the sun, moon, or stars. Also, this world
as the dwelling place of mortals, in distinction from the
dwelling place of spirits.
That law preserves the earth a sphere
And guides the planets in their course. --S. Rogers.
In heaven, or earth, or under earth, in hell.
2. The solid materials which make up the globe, in
distinction from the air or water; the dry land.
God called the dry land earth. --Gen. i. 10.
He is pure air and fire, and the dull elements of
earth and water never appear in him. --Shak.
3. The softer inorganic matter composing part of the surface
of the globe, in distinction from the firm rock; soil of
all kinds, including gravel, clay, loam, and the like;
sometimes, soil favorable to the growth of plants; the
visible surface of the globe; the ground; as, loose earth;
Give him a little earth for charity. --Shak.
4. A part of this globe; a region; a country; land.
Would I had never trod this English earth. --Shak.
5. Worldly things, as opposed to spiritual things; the
pursuits, interests, and allurements of this life.
Our weary souls by earth beguiled. --Keble.
6. The people on the globe.
The whole earth was of one language. --Gen. xi. 1.
(a) Any earthy-looking metallic oxide, as alumina,
glucina, zirconia, yttria, and thoria.
(b) A similar oxide, having a slight alkaline reaction, as
lime, magnesia, strontia, baryta.
8. A hole in the ground, where an animal hides himself; as,
the earth of a fox. --Macaulay.
They [ferrets] course the poor conies out of their
9. (Elec.) The connection of any part an electric conductor
with the ground; specif., the connection of a telegraph
line with the ground through a fault or otherwise.
Note: When the resistance of the earth connection is low it
is termed a good earth.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
Note: Earth is used either adjectively or in combination to
form compound words; as, earth apple or earth-apple;
earth metal or earth-metal; earth closet or
Adamic earth, Bitter earth, Bog earth, Chian earth,
etc. See under Adamic, Bitter, etc.
Alkaline earths. See under Alkaline.
Earth apple. (Bot.)
(a) A potato.
(b) A cucumber.
Earth auger, a form of auger for boring into the ground; --
called also earth borer.
Earth bath, a bath taken by immersing the naked body in
earth for healing purposes.
Earth battery (Physics), a voltaic battery the elements of
which are buried in the earth to be acted on by its
Earth chestnut, the pignut.
Earth closet, a privy or commode provided with dry earth or
a similar substance for covering and deodorizing the
Earth dog (Zo["o]l.), a dog that will dig in the earth, or
enter holes of foxes, etc.
Earth hog, Earth pig (Zo["o]l.), the aard-vark.
Earth hunger, an intense desire to own land, or, in the
case of nations, to extend their domain.
Earth light (Astron.), the light reflected by the earth, as
upon the moon, and corresponding to moonlight; -- called
also earth shine. --Sir J. Herschel.
Earth metal. See 1st Earth, 7. (Chem.)
Earth oil, petroleum.
Earth pillars or Earth pyramids (Geol.), high pillars or
pyramids of earth, sometimes capped with a single stone,
found in Switzerland. --Lyell.
Earth pitch (Min.), mineral tar, a kind of asphaltum.
Earth quadrant, a fourth of the earth's circumference.
Earth table (Arch.), the lowest course of stones visible in
a building; the ground table.
On earth, an intensive expression, oftenest used in
questions and exclamations; as, What on earth shall I do?
Nothing on earth will satisfy him. [Colloq.]
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
adv 1: used with question words to convey surprise; "what on
earth are you doing?"