Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English erthen, urthen, from Old English eorþen, *yrþen, *ierþen (made of earth), from Proto-Germanic *irþīnaz, equivalent to earth +‎ -en (adjectival suffix). Cognate with Dutch aarden (earthen), German irden (earthen).


earthen (comparative more earthen, superlative most earthen)

  1. Made of earth or mud.
    • 1826, James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans
      A hundred earthen dwellings stood on the margin of the lake []
    • 2019, Li Huang; James Lambert, “Another Arrow for the Quiver: A New Methodology for Multilingual Researchers”, in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, DOI:10.1080/01434632.2019.1596115, page 4:
      But transects have also been utilised in a large variety of arenas, including surveying the contents of Amerindian earthen mounds[.]
  2. Made of clay (especially said of pottery).
    • 1589, Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of The English Nation
      ... the Godfathers and Godmothers follow into the midst of the Church, where there is a small table ready set, and on it an earthen pot ful of warme water, []
  3. (archaic) Earthly.
    • 1903, Maria Lydia Winkler, From Glory to Glory; Or, The Christian's Glorious Ministry (page 228)
      Will they be yours when one by one these earthen / Delights and comforts and all beauties wane? / Will they be found laid up above, illumined?

Etymology 2Edit

From earth +‎ -en.


earthen (third-person singular simple present earthens, present participle earthening, simple past and past participle earthened)

  1. (transitive) to provide or add soil to
    • 2017, N.R. Das, Tillage and Crop Production, 2nd Ed., page 104:
      Their inter-tillage operations, earthening-up of some crops and tillage in orchard/gardens or plantation crops, are stated below, under special cropping system in different situations.
  2. (transitive) to make earthly or earthlike
    • 1919, The Improvement Era, volume 23, page 191:
      It deadens,—or earthens—the spirit in both directions.