Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several typically small, active breeds of hunting dog originally developed for driving game from burrows.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dog from a group of small, lively breeds, originally bred for the hunting of burrowing prey such as rabbits or foxes.
  • n. A collection of acknowledgments of the vassals or tenants of a lordship, containing the rents and services they owed to the lord, etc.
  • n. A book or roll in which the lands of private persons or corporations are described by their site, boundaries, number of acres, etc.; a terrar.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An auger or borer.
  • n. One of a breed of small dogs, which includes several distinct subbreeds, some of which, such as the Skye terrier and Yorkshire terrier, have long hair and drooping ears, while others, at the English and the black-and-tan terriers, have short, close, smooth hair and upright ears.
  • n.
  • n. Formerly, a collection of acknowledgments of the vassals or tenants of a lordship, containing the rents and services they owed to the lord, and the like.
  • n. In modern usage, a book or roll in which the lands of private persons or corporations are described by their site, boundaries, number of acres, or the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of several breeds of dogs, typically small, active, and hardy, named from their propensity to dig or scratch the ground in pursuit of their prey, and noted for their courage and the acute-ness of their senses.
  • n. In law: Formerly, a collection of acknowledgments of the vassals or tenants of a lordship, including the rents and services they owed to the lord, etc.
  • n. In modern usage, a book or roll in which the lands of private persons or corporations are described by their site, boundaries, number of acres, etc.
  • n. A borer, auger, or wimble.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of several usually small short-bodied breeds originally trained to hunt animals living underground

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French (chien) terrier, ground (dog), terrier, from Medieval Latin terrārius, of the earth, from Latin terra; see ters- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French (Middle French) chien terrier "terrier dog", or literally "earth dog," from chien 'dog' + terrier (itself ultimately from Latin terra 'earth') (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • When doggy men beyond ocean talk about a terrier, they usually pronounce it _tarrier_, and not _terrier_, as we mostly call him on this bank of the Atlantic.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 04, No. 25, November, 1859

  • It was an English scene, and the two men, the dog at their feet, (for Peter Dealtry favoured a wirey stone-coloured cur, which he called a terrier,) and just at the door of the little inn, two old gossips, loitering on the threshold in familiar chat with the landlady, in cap and kerchief, -- all together made a groupe equally

    Eugene Aram — Volume 01

  • You start out with a goal, and a clear intention to pursue it -- aiming, let's say, for information on which kind of terrier is best with children -- and the next thing you know, you're engrossed in an online chat about Napolean Bonaparte.

    Susan Stiffelman: Are We One Click Away From Disconnecting From the People Around Us?

  • If I couldn't get ten pounds for him, just like that, with a thank-you - ma'am, I'm a sucker that don't know a terrier from a greyhound.

    CHAPTER 1

  • Thereafter, when any cat came into view, the dog would retreat to his doghouse and, I suppose, peruse his collection of Playmutts (last month's centerfold, a fox terrier, is really hot by the way).

    Archive 2010-02-01

  • Suni Williams's Jack Russell terrier is named Gorby, perfect for a master who has spent months with Russian cosmonauts in orbit.

    NASA Watch: June 2007 Archives

  • The Staffordshire bull terrier is homeless and potential new owners are put off by the two noses that it has.

    Two Face Kitten

  • By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, virtually every dog that you might call a terrier was an excited barker.

    How to Speak Dog

  • Then he called the terrier and set him upon his knee.

    Anthony Lyveden

  • Rex also wanted to follow, but as Ross was afraid that he might jump at the kite and tear it with his teeth, though in play, he called the terrier back.

    The Boy with the U. S. Weather Men

Comments

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  • I had no idea this word has so many meanings. OED lists several nouns and one verb:

    1. Now in limited use. A register of landed property, formerly including lists of vassals and tenants, with particulars of their holdings, services, and rents; a rent-roll; in later use, a book in which the lands of a private person, or of a corporation civil or ecclesiastical, are described by their site, boundaries, acreage, etc. Also, in extended application, an inventory of property or goods.

    2. A small, active, intelligent variety of dog, which pursues its quarry (the fox, badger, etc.) into its burrow or earth; the numerous breeds are distinguished into two classes, the short- or smooth-haired, and the long- or rough-haired. Formerly also terrier dog.

    3. Now obsolete: A name given to certain beavers said to burrow instead of building.

    4. Now obsolete: The earth or burrow of a badger or fox.

    5. verb: To burrow in the manner of a terrier; to make one's way like a terrier. Usage: 1965 ‘J. Christopher’ Wrinkle in Skin iii. 26 "He began to terrier his way into the mound."

    February 23, 2007