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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Spending an extended period of time together for the first time since the world tour behind Psychic wrapped in 2014, Jaar and Harrington spent a lot of time just talking, cooking and generally hanging out. Katie Bain, Billboard, 23 July 2021 This involves contributing the same amount at regular intervals over an extended period of time. Amy Wagner And Steve Sprovach, The Enquirer, 22 July 2021 In October, NextEra asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to help resolve the dispute, which company officials said would require Seabrook to shut down for an extended period and mean a significant cost to their company., 22 July 2021 This year’s hurricane season is predicted to be an active one, and a major storm that knocks out power for an extended period would compound the strain. Washington Post, 22 July 2021 Compared to daily doses, biologics can be taken weekly or even monthly for an extended period of time. Ashley Abramson, Allure, 22 July 2021 In September 2019, an employee at the mall's Forever 21 store noticed that a man had been in a fitting room for an unusually long period. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, 20 July 2021 On-device machine learning algorithms learn your charging habits so that the feature only kicks on when your iPhone thinks it'll be plugged in for an extended period of time, like overnight. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 19 July 2021 The Colts assembled a number of solid defensive tackles who started for an extended period of time. Nat Newell, The Indianapolis Star, 17 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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

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.

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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

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Period.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for period



English Language Learners Definition of period

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a length of time during which a series of events or an action takes place or is completed
: a length of time that is very important in the history of the world, a nation, etc.
: a time that is very important in the life of a person



English Language Learners Definition of period (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or typical of a particular time in history


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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