pe·​ri·​od | \ ˈpir-ē-əd How to pronounce period (audio) \

Definition of period

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the completion of a cycle, a series of events, or a single action : conclusion
2a(1) : an utterance from one full stop to another : sentence
(2) : a well-proportioned sentence of several clauses
b : a musical structure or melodic section usually composed of two or more contrasting or complementary phrases and ending with a cadence
3a : the full pause with which the utterance of a sentence closes
b : end, stop
4 obsolete : goal, purpose
5a(1) : a point . used to mark the end (as of a declarative sentence or an abbreviation)
(2) used interjectionally to emphasize the finality of the preceding statement I don't remember—period
b : a rhythmical unit in Greek verse composed of a series of two or more cola
6a : a portion of time determined by some recurring phenomenon
b(1) : the interval of time required for a cyclic motion or phenomenon to complete a cycle and begin to repeat itself
(2) : a number k that does not change the value of a periodic function f when added to the independent variable especially : the smallest such number
c : a single cyclic occurrence of menstruation
7a : a chronological division : stage
b : a division of geologic time longer than an epoch and included in an era
c : a stage of culture having a definable place in time and space
8a : one of the divisions of the academic day
b : one of the divisions of the playing time of a game



Definition of period (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or representing a particular historical period period furniture period costumes

Synonyms for period

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for period


period, epoch, era, age mean a division of time. period may designate an extent of time of any length. periods of economic prosperity epoch applies to a period begun or set off by some significant or striking quality, change, or series of events. the steam engine marked a new epoch in industry era suggests a period of history marked by a new or distinct order of things. the era of global communications age is used frequently of a fairly definite period dominated by a prominent figure or feature. the age of Samuel Johnson

Examples of period in a Sentence

Noun We have had two power failures in a five-month period. The period between Christmas and New Year's Eve is a very busy one for us. We are studying our country's colonial period. Children go through many changes during the period of adolescence.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The majority of the claimants allege that they were abused by Nassar after his abuse was reported to the FBI, during the year-long period in which the agency took no meaningful investigative action. Sarah Fitzpatrick, NBC News, 22 Sep. 2022 Her advocacy came during a period when even her own party was divided over gay rights. Isaac Yu, Journal Sentinel, 22 Sep. 2022 Related: Health insurance companies seeking R.I. approval of rate increases of 7 to 14 percent During a public comment period, Rhode Islanders expressed outrage over the increases. Alexa Gagosz,, 22 Sep. 2022 Dangling all these early deals, however, may not ignite a shopping frenzy during the most important sales period of the year for retailers, which historically commences in earnest on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, 22 Sep. 2022 As the English empire grew during this time period, so did its language. Keira Wingate, USA TODAY, 22 Sep. 2022 Many comics, novels, and even video games have explored the same time period in the saga, and the same ideas. WIRED, 22 Sep. 2022 La'el Collins was not present at practice during the media viewing period. Cincinnati Enquirer, The Enquirer, 21 Sep. 2022 Defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi was coaching Noah Sewell and DJ Johnson on pass rush during the first period. oregonlive, 21 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The owner decorated the interior in a period Caribbean colonial style, and most of the furniture and decor comes from St. Thomas or the US Virgin Islands; other pieces come from Barbados, as much is traded among the islands of the West Indies. Emma Reynolds, Robb Report, 26 Apr. 2022 Whereas early Meshuggah could often register as an endlessly clenching first, their mid-period work started to breathe, projecting a strange kind of serenity amid the constant information overload. Hank Shteamer, Rolling Stone, 15 Mar. 2022 The best San Jose chance that stretch came on a mid-period power play, when undrafted rookie Alexander Barbanov had an open net from below the right circle., 24 Oct. 2021 Drawing inspiration from the folklore of Norse seafaring, period-style oil paintings will depict tales of the deep and intricate carvings of tentacles, barnacles, compasses and more will accentuate porthole frames. Tim Walters, USA TODAY, 29 July 2021 Popular television series are often period dramas that offer pleasing escapes into quaint hierarchies—Downtown Abbey, Poldark, The Crown, and so on. Samuel Earle, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2021 Season 4 of Netflix's The Crown takes the multi-period historical drama about Queen Elizabeth II's reign over the United Kingdom into the 1980s, including one of the weirdest wars of a violent decade. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 4 Dec. 2020 Later, in the second quarter, officials talked with both coaches during the mid-period hydration timeout. Chris Dabe,, 30 Oct. 2020 Buyers can opt for a variety of non-period modifications. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 8 Sep. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'period.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of period


1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1905, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for period


Middle English periode, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin, Latin, & Greek; Medieval Latin periodus period of time, punctuation mark, from Latin & Greek; Latin, rhetorical period, from Greek periodos circuit, period of time, rhetorical period, from peri- + hodos way

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Period.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for period


pe·​ri·​od | \ ˈpir-ē-əd How to pronounce period (audio) \

Kids Definition of period

1 : a punctuation mark . used chiefly to mark the end of a declarative sentence or an abbreviation
2 : a portion of time set apart by some quality a period of cool weather
3 : a portion of time that forms a stage in history the colonial period
4 : one of the divisions of a school day I have math second period.
5 : a single occurrence of menstruation

Choose the Right Synonym for period

period and age mean a portion of time. period can be used of any portion of time, no matter how long or short. We waited a period of five minutes. A new period of space exploration has begun. age is used of a longer period of time that is associated with an important person or outstanding thing. I'm reading about the age of Thomas Jefferson. We live in the computer age.


pe·​ri·​od | \ ˈpir-ē-əd How to pronounce period (audio) \

Medical Definition of period

1a : a portion of time determined by some recurring phenomenon
b : a single cyclic occurrence of menstruation
2 : a chronological division the period of incubation of a disease

More from Merriam-Webster on period

Nglish: Translation of period for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of period for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about period


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