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
Events include tours of the mansion, concerts with period music on the lawn and craft activities for children. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 The mayor’s budget called for the LAPD to end the 2023-24 budget year with about 9,500 police officers — a target that would require the hiring of nearly 1,000 officers over a 12-month period. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 The length of the season is a reference to the 40-day period that Jesus Christ spent in the desert, fasting and resisting temptation by Satan. Christine Rousselle, Fox News, 15 Feb. 2024 The oldest ruins were stone towers and tombs from the early Bronze Age, a time sometimes referred to as the Umm an-Nar period that lasted from 2600 B.C. to 2000 B.C., archaeologists said. Aspen Pflughoeft, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 In sectors where innovation and change are the norms, such as technology, or during periods of significant organizational change, a more agile approach to strategy reviews might be required. Benjamin Laker, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 For a period of time, any 14 to 17 year old didn’t even know my name. Jenelle Riley, Variety, 15 Feb. 2024 Under Widodo, Indonesia saw a period of remarkable growth averaging 5% annually, except in 2020, when the economy contracted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Niniek Karmini and Edna Tariganthe Associated Press, arkansasonline.com, 15 Feb. 2024 Thus far the only individual to work with him noiselessly over a long period is SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 3 Feb. 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 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. BostonGlobe.com, 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 See More

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 21 Feb. 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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