period

1 of 2

noun

pe·​ri·​od ˈpir-ē-əd How to pronounce period (audio)
1
: the completion of a cycle, a series of events, or a single action : conclusion
2
a(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
3
a
: the full pause with which the utterance of a sentence closes
b
: end, stop
4
obsolete : goal, purpose
5
a(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
6
a
: 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
7
a
: 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
8
a
: one of the divisions of the academic day
b
: one of the divisions of the playing time of a game

period

2 of 2

adjective

: of, relating to, or representing a particular historical period
period furniture
period costumes
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
Election year confidence, by this math, ran on average 7% lower than the non-election periods. Jonathan Lansner, Orange County Register, 3 June 2024 Figures on Wednesday are expected to show Australia’s economy grew a tad in the first quarter versus the previous period, in what would be the 10th straight expansion. Sasha Rogelberg, Fortune, 2 June 2024
Adjective
At chairs and tables arranged in a loose circle in the Jewish Community Center’s Cafritz Hall, the actors read scenes and sing period German songs, as well as some composed by Broder and Duffy. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 19 Jan. 2023 Then the show has to go and become pointlessly circuitous for two episodes, as a combination of interchangeable actors obscured by period facial hair, unplaceable accents and purposeless time jumping make the story hazy for no good reason. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Nov. 2022 See all Example Sentences for period 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'period.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1905, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of period was in 1532

Dictionary Entries Near period

Cite this Entry

“Period.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/period. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

period

noun
pe·​ri·​od
ˈpir-ē-əd
1
: the completion of a cycle, a series of events, or an action
2
: a point . used to mark the end (as of a declarative sentence or an abbreviation)
3
a
: a portion of time marked by some repeating event
b
: the length of time required for a motion or event to complete a cycle and begin to repeat itself
the period of a pendulum
c
: a single occurrence of menstruation
4
b
: a division of geologic time longer than an epoch and included in an era
c
: a stage or portion of time in the history of something
the colonial period
5
a
: one of the divisions of the school day
b
: one of the divisions of the playing time of a game
6
: a series of elements of increasing atomic number as listed in horizontal rows in the periodic table

Medical Definition

period

noun
pe·​ri·​od ˈpir-ē-əd How to pronounce period (audio)
1
a
: 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

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