noun ter·ri·to·ry \ˈter-ə-ˌtr-ē\

: an area of land that belongs to or is controlled by a government

: one of the parts of the United States that is not a state

: any one of the large parts that some countries are divided into

plural -ries

Full Definition of TERRITORY

a :  a geographic area belonging to or under the jurisdiction of a governmental authority
b :  an administrative subdivision of a country
c :  a part of the United States not included within any state but organized with a separate legislature
d :  a geographic area (as a colonial possession) dependent on an external government but having some degree of autonomy
a :  an indeterminate geographic area
b :  a field of knowledge or interest
a :  an assigned area; especially :  one in which a sales representative or distributor operates
b :  an area often including a nesting or denning site and a variable foraging range that is occupied and defended by an animal or group of animals
go with the territory or come with the territory
:  to be a natural or unavoidable aspect or accompaniment of a particular situation, position, or field <criticism goes with the territory in this job>

Examples of TERRITORY

  1. Those mountains are in Mexican territory.
  2. Guam is a U.S. territory.
  3. The birds are busy establishing territories and building nests.
  4. Male cats spray to mark territory.
  5. The goal of the expedition is to map unexplored territory.


Middle English, from Latin territorium, literally, land around a town, from terra land — more at terrace
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism


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