1. the solid surface of the earth; firm or dry land: to fall to the ground.
  2. earth or soil: stony ground.
  3. land having an indicated character: rising ground.
  4. Often grounds. a tract of land appropriated to a special use: picnic grounds; a hunting ground.
  5. Often grounds. the foundation or basis on which a belief or action rests; reason or cause: grounds for dismissal.
  6. subject for discussion; topic: Sex education is forbidden ground in some school curricula.
  7. rational or factual support for one’s position or attitude, as in a debate or argument: on firm ground; on shaky ground.
  8. the main surface or background in painting, decorative work, lace, etc.
  9. Fine Arts.
    1. a coating of some substance serving as a surface for paint, ink, or other media in art: Lead white is a traditional ground for oil paintings.
    2. ground color(def 2).
  10. (in perception) the background in a visual field, contrasted with the figure.
  11. Also called etching ground. an acid-resistant substance, composed of wax, gum, and resin in varying proportions, applied to the entire surface of an etching plate and through which the design is drawn with an etching needle.
  12. grounds, dregs or sediment: coffee grounds.
  13. grounds, the gardens, lawn, etc., surrounding and belonging to a building.
  14. Electricity. a conducting connection between an electric circuit or equipment and the earth or some other conducting body.
  15. Music. ground bass.
  16. Nautical. the bottom of a body of water.
  17. the earth’s solid or liquid surface; land or water.
  18. Carpentry.
    1. a strip of wood to which woodwork can be attached, set flush with the plaster finish of a room.
    2. a strip of wood or length of corner bead used at an opening as a stop for plasterwork.


  1. situated on or at, or adjacent to, the surface of the earth: a ground attack.
  2. pertaining to the ground.
  3. Military. operating on land: ground forces.

verb (used with object)

  1. to lay or set on the ground.
  2. to place on a foundation; fix firmly; settle or establish; found.
  3. to instruct in elements or first principles: to ground students in science.
  4. to furnish with a ground or background, as on decorative work.
  5. to cover (wallpaper) with colors or other materials before printing.
  6. Electricity. to establish a ground for (a circuit, device, etc.).
  7. Nautical. to cause (a vessel) to run aground.
  8. Aeronautics. to restrict (an aircraft or the like) to the ground because of bad weather, the unsatisfactory condition of the aircraft, etc.
  9. to forbid (a pilot) to fly because of bad health, failure to comply with safety regulations, or the like.
  10. Informal. to put out of action or make unable to participate: The quarterback was grounded by a knee injury.
  11. Informal. to restrict the activities, especially the social activities, of: I can’t go to the party—my parents have grounded me until my grades improve.

verb (used without object)

  1. to come to or strike the ground.
  2. Baseball.
    1. to hit a ground ball.
    2. to ground out.

Verb Phrases

  1. ground out, Baseball. to be put out at first base after hitting a ground ball to the infield.
  1. break ground,
    1. to plow.
    2. to begin excavation for a construction project.
    3. to begin upon or take preparatory measures for any undertaking.
  2. cover ground,
    1. to pass or travel over a certain area.
    2. to make a certain amount of progress in dealing with a piece of work, subject, treatise, or the like: He talked for two hours without covering much ground.
  3. cut the ground from under, to render (an argument, position, person, etc.) ineffective or invalid; refute: It didn’t require much effort to cut the ground from under that case.
  4. from the ground up,
    1. gradually from the most elementary level to the highest level: She learned the business from the ground up.
    2. extensively; thoroughly: The professor knew his subject from the ground up.
  5. gain ground,
    1. to make progress; advance.
    2. to gain approval or acceptance: The case for air-pollution control is gaining ground throughout the country.
  6. give ground, to yield to force or forceful argument; retreat: The disarmament talks reached an impasse when neither side would give ground on inspection proposals.
  7. hold/stand one’s ground, to maintain one’s position; be steadfast: The referee stood his ground, though his decision was hotly contested by the crowd.
  8. into the ground, beyond a reasonable or necessary point: You’ve stated your case, and you needn’t run it into the ground.
  9. lose ground,
    1. to retreat or be forced back.
    2. to lose one’s advantage; suffer a reverse.
    3. to wane in popularity or acceptance; begin to fail: Our candidate is losing ground in industrial areas.
  10. off the ground, Informal. into action or well under way: The play never got off the ground.
  11. on one’s own ground, in an area or situation that one knows well.
  12. on the ground, at the place of interest or importance; actively engaged: Minutes after the bank robbery reporters were on the ground to get the story.
  13. shift ground, to change position in an argument or situation.
  14. suit down to the ground, to be perfectly satisfactory; please greatly: This climate suits me down to the ground.
  15. take the ground, Nautical. to become grounded at low water.
  16. to ground,
    1. into a den, burrow, shelter, or the like: a fox gone to ground.
    2. into concealment or hiding: Rather than take the witness stand, she went to ground in another country.


  1. a simple past tense and past participle of grind.


  1. reduced to fine particles or dust by grinding.
  2. (of meat, vegetables, etc.) reduced to very small pieces by putting through a food processor or grinder: ground beef.
  3. having the surface abraded or roughened by or as if by grinding, as in order to reduce its transparency: ground glass.


  1. sensible and down-to-earth; having one’s feet on the ground


  1. the land surface
  2. earth or soilhe dug into the ground outside his house
  3. (plural) the land around a dwelling house or other building
  4. (sometimes plural) an area of land given over to a purposefootball ground; burial grounds
  5. land having a particular characteristiclevel ground; high ground
  6. matter for consideration or debate; field of research or inquirythe lecture was familiar ground to him; the report covered a lot of ground
  7. a position or viewpoint, as in an argument or controversy (esp in the phrases give ground, hold, stand, or shift one’s ground)
  8. position or advantage, as in a subject or competition (esp in the phrases gain ground, lose ground, etc)
  9. (often plural) reason; justificationgrounds for complaint
  10. arts
    1. the prepared surface applied to the support of a painting, such as a wall, canvas, etc, to prevent it reacting with or absorbing the paint
    2. the support of a painting
    3. the background of a painting or main surface against which the other parts of a work of art appear superimposed
    1. the first coat of paint applied to a surface
    2. (as modifier)ground colour
  11. the bottom of a river or the sea
  12. (plural) sediment or dregs, esp from coffee
  13. mainly British the floor of a room
  14. cricket
    1. the area from the popping crease back past the stumps, in which a batsman may legally stand
    2. ground staff
  15. See ground bass
  16. a mesh or network supporting the main pattern of a piece of lace
  17. electrical, US and Canadian
    1. a connection between an electrical circuit or device and the earth, which is at zero potential
    2. Also called: eartha terminal to which this connection is made
  18. above ground alive
  19. below ground dead and buried
  20. break new ground to do something that has not been done before
  21. cut the ground from under someone’s feet to anticipate someone’s action or argument and thus make it irrelevant or meaningless
  22. to the ground or down to the ground British informal completely; absolutelyit suited him down to the ground
  23. get off the ground informal to make a beginning, esp one that is successful
  24. go to ground to go into hiding
  25. into the ground beyond what is requisite or can be endured; to exhaustion
  26. meet someone on his own ground to meet someone according to terms he has laid down himself
  27. the high ground or the moral high ground a position of moral or ethical superiority in a dispute
  28. touch ground
    1. (of a ship) to strike the sea bed
    2. to arrive at something solid or stable after discussing or dealing with topics that are abstract or inconclusive
  29. (modifier) situated on, living on, or used on the groundground frost; ground forces
  30. (modifier) concerned with or operating on the ground, esp as distinct from in the airground crew; ground hostess
  31. (modifier) (used in names of plants) low-growing and often trailing or spreading


  1. (tr) to put or place on the ground
  2. (tr) to instruct in fundamentals
  3. (tr) to provide a basis or foundation for; establish
  4. (tr) to confine (an aircraft, pilot, etc) to the ground
  5. (tr) informal to confine (a child) to the house as a punishment
  6. the usual US word for earth (def. 16)
  7. (tr) nautical to run (a vessel) aground
  8. (tr) to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat of paint
  9. (intr) to hit or reach the ground


  1. the past tense and past participle of grind


  1. having the surface finished, thickness reduced, or an edge sharpened by grinding
  2. reduced to fine particles by grinding

“learned,” late 14c.; “firmly fixed or established,” 1540s, past participle adjective from ground (v.). Electrical sense is from 1889. Meaning “having been denied privileges” is from 1940s. Dickens had room-ridden “confined to one’s room.”


Old English grund “bottom, foundation, ground, surface of the earth,” especially “bottom of the sea” (a sense preserved in run aground), from Proto-Germanic *grundus, which seems to have meant “deep place” (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish grund, Dutch grond, Old High German grunt, German Grund “ground, soil, bottom;” Old Norse grunn “a shallow place,” grund “field, plain,” grunnr “bottom”). No known cognates outside Germanic. Sense of “reason, motive” first attested c.1200; electrical sense is from 1870.


mid-13c., “to put on the ground, to strike down to the ground,” from ground (n.). Of ships, “to run into the ground,” from mid-15c. Meaning “to base” (an argument, sermon, etc.) is late 14c. Meaning “deny privileges” is 1940s, originally a punishment meted out to pilots (in which sense it is attested from 1930). Related: Grounded; grounding.


“reduced to fine particles by grinding,” 1765, past participle adjective from grind.

  1. A connection between an electrical conductor and the Earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Also called earth
  2. The set of shared points in an electrical circuit at which the measured voltage is taken to be zero. The ground is usually connected directly to the power supply and acts as a common “sink” for current flowing through the components in the circuit.

In addition to the idioms beginning with ground

  • ground floor, get in on the
  • ground rules

also see:

  • both feet on the ground
  • break ground
  • common ground
  • cover ground
  • cover the field (ground)
  • cut the ground from under
  • down to the ground
  • ear to the ground
  • from the ground up
  • gain ground
  • get off the ground
  • give ground
  • happy hunting ground
  • hit the ground running
  • lose ground
  • on one’s home ground
  • run into the ground
  • run to earth (ground)
  • stamping ground
  • stand one’s ground
  • worship the ground someone walks on
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