\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a word or expression that has a precise meaning in some uses or is peculiar to a science, art, profession, or subject legal terms
b terms plural : expression of a specified kind described in glowing terms
2a : a limited or definite extent of time especially : the time for which something lasts : duration, tenure term of office lost money in the short term
b : the whole period for which an estate is granted also : the estate or interest held by one for a term
c : the time during which a court is in session
3 : division in a school year during which instruction is regularly given to students
4 terms plural : provisions that determine the nature and scope of an agreement : conditions terms of sale liberal credit terms
5 terms plural
a : mutual relationship : footing on good terms
b : agreement, concord come to terms after extensive negotiations
c : a state of acceptance or understanding came to terms with the failure of his marriage
6a : the time at which a pregnancy of normal length terminates had her baby at full term
b : end, termination also : a point in time assigned to something (such as a payment)
7a : a unitary or compound expression connected with another by a plus or minus sign
b : an element of a fraction or proportion or of a series or sequence
8 : any of the three substantive elements of a syllogism
9 : a quadrangular pillar often tapering downward and adorned on the top with the figure of a head or the upper part of the body
in terms of
: with respect to or in relation to thinks of everything in terms of money
on one's own terms
: in accordance with one's wishes : in one's own way prefers to live on his own terms


termed; terming; terms

Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to apply a term to : call, name

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Synonyms for term

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of term in a Sentence

Noun “I had the feeling that I had been there before.” “The term for that is ‘déjà vu.’” That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore. He spoke about them in glowing terms. The law had been understood in broad terms. The governor will run for a second term. He is currently serving his third term in the U.S. Senate. He was sentenced to a ten-year term in the state penitentiary. The term of the contract is 60 months. His grades have improved since last term. English 122 is not offered this term. Verb They termed the structure a “double helix.” The project was termed a success.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But in terms of balance and overall talent, the Tigers are the closest match to the Buckeyes. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "Should Ohio State football rest Justin Fields and Shaun Wade; who’s the Buckeyes’ best offensive lineman? Hey, Doug," 7 Dec. 2019 In terms of designing, planning and building really large amounts of infrastructure, 2050 is not that far away. The Economist, "Climate change The necessity of pulling carbon dioxide out of the air," 7 Dec. 2019 New customer offer, visit BetMGM for terms and conditions New to sports betting? Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua 2 - Weigh-in, odds," 6 Dec. 2019 The biggest release in terms of amount of music comes courtesy of Liam, who released his debut album LP1. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "One Direction's Harry Styles, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan Release New Music on Same Day," 6 Dec. 2019 Alaska CargoPort founder Ray Brimble said Anchorage International has performed well in recent years compared to other North American airports, in terms of tons of freight moving through. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "UPS plans major cargo expansion at Anchorage airport," 6 Dec. 2019 The whole tenor has changed in terms of job growth. BostonGlobe.com, "Stocks in the U.S. climbed on the report, while Treasuries fell and the dollar rose.," 6 Dec. 2019 Answering consumer demand for trucks with more differentiation in terms of appearance, Titan models receive different color offerings, three separate grille designs and five different wheel designs. Tim Spell, Houston Chronicle, "Nissan plans ‘tighter’ 2020 Titan lineup," 6 Dec. 2019 Of all the Irish players, Brunelle was one who graded out highest in terms of leadership potential. Mike Berardino, Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame women's basketball works with ex-Army officers in rare program," 5 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Based on the ages and characteristics of the available fossils, paleoanthropologists thought A. anamensis gave rise to A. afarensis through an evolutionary process termed anagenesis, in which one species transforms into another. Kate Wong, Scientific American, "The Face of the Earliest Human Ancestor, Revealed," 7 Dec. 2019 Williams had what Dantonio termed his best game as a Spartan, catching five passes for 63 yards in addition to his five carries for 13 yards. Chase Michaelson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's Tre Mosley, 'a money player,' rips off redshirt, has big day vs. Maryland," 1 Dec. 2019 The latest organisms that researchers have looked to are bacteria in the microbiomes of roundworms that parasitize insects (technically termed enteropathogenic nematodes). Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "New antibiotic found in bacteria inside a worm inside an insect egg," 20 Nov. 2019 Fleabag's second season had just premiered on Amazon, and what felt like the entire world was united in blazing, all-consuming lust for a character that the media quickly termed the Hot Priest. Emma Specter, Vogue, "Fans of Fleabag's Hot Priest: Allow Me to Introduce You to The Crown's Hot Journalist," 18 Nov. 2019 Joan Keating-McKeon, the head of the English department, said few people can be termed a legend. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "Northwest Catholic dedicates a memorial bench to a legendary teacher," 18 Oct. 2019 Diggs missed Wednesday's practice due to what the team termed non-jury reasons. Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI.com, "Stefon Diggs on Reports He Wants to Be Traded: ‘There’s Truth to All Rumors’," 3 Oct. 2019 This is termed a chalky play and isn’t worth the risk. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Giants-Bears odds: NY Giants spotted a touchdown in Chicago," 21 Nov. 2019 It was termed a clerical error, officially, but conference officials were told the China trip caused the oversight. John Canzano | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Canzano: Pac-12 China Game trip feels like poor form in wake of NBA mess," 16 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'term.' 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 term


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6b


1545, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for term


Middle English terme, from Anglo-French, from Latin terminus boundary marker, limit; akin to Greek termōn boundary, end, Sanskrit tarman top of a post

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Time Traveler for term

Time Traveler

The first known use of term was in the 13th century

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Statistics for term

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Term.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/term. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for term



Financial Definition of term

What It Is

In the finance world, a term is the length of time until a debt matures. A term can also be a condition of a deal, as evidenced by the phrase term sheet, which describes the terms of a deal.

How It Works

Let's say Company XYZ wants to borrow $1 million to build a factory. It meets with its bank, ABC Bank, to negotiate the loan. The company and the bank agree to a 10-year loan with quarterly payments and a 7% interest rate. In this case, the term is 10 years.

Why It Matters

The longer the term of a piece of debt, the lower the payments usually are. However, the interest rate may be higher due to the lender's increased risk exposure.

In the second instance, when two companies are negotiating a deal and are working through a term sheet, one term may have more influence over the deal than another and thus may create significant sticking points.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce term (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word or phrase that has an exact meaning
: the particular kinds of words used to describe someone or something
: the length of time during which a person has an official or political office



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

: to give a particular name or description to (something) : to call (something) by a particular name or to describe (something) in a particular way


\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Kids Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a word or expression that has an exact meaning in some uses or is limited to a subject or field legal terms
2 : a period of time fixed especially by law or custom a school term
3 terms plural : conditions that limit the nature and scope of something (as a treaty or a will) the terms of a contract
4 terms plural : relationship between people I'm on good terms with the neighbors.
5 : any one of the numbers in a series
6 : the numerator or denominator of a fraction


termed; terming

Kids Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

: to call by a particular name “… it pleases him to be termed Emperor rather than King.”— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

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\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Medical Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the time at which a pregnancy of normal length terminates had her baby at full term

Medical Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

: carried to, occurring at, or associated with full term a term infant term births


noun, often attributive

Legal Definition of term

1 : a specified period of time the policy term
2 : the whole period for which an estate is granted also : the estate itself
3a : the period in which the powers of a court may be validly exercised
4 : a word, phrase, or provision of import especially in determining the nature and scope of an agreement usually used in pl. the terms of the contract

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More from Merriam-Webster on term

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for term

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with term

Spanish Central: Translation of term

Nglish: Translation of term for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of term for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about term

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