PRAIRIE (adopted from the Fr. prairie, a meadow-tract. Late Lat. pralaria, Lat. pratum, meadow), a level tract of grassy and treeless country, generally restricted to tracts so characterized in the central parts of North America. In the United States the prairies may be taken to extend from southern Michigan and western Ohio over Illinois (especially designated the Prairie State), Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and west of the Missouri to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (see articles on the several states, and UNITED STATES). In Canada they extend from the same mountains to a line somewhat to the east of Winnipeg. The word prairie is used in a large number of compounds referring to natural and other features, flora, fauna, etc., characteristic of the prairies. Examples are: prairie-chicken or prairie-hen, a name for the pinnated grouse (Cupidonia or Tympanucus cupido), also applied to Pedioecetes phasinellus, the sharp-tailed grouse; prairie-dog, a rodent of the squirrel family, genus Cynomys, a gregarious burrowing animal, and other animals noticed below; prairie-schooner, a name for the covered wagons in which emigrants used to cross the plains; prairie-grass, etc.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)