\ 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 That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore.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 For months, the state refused to release information about cases in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star, "The state has no requirements for reopening plans. How will we know schools are safe?," 2 Aug. 2020 Given uncertainty about the long-term course of the pandemic, universities might see an uptick in interest from local students who appreciate the comfort of attending classes close to home. Samuel Zwickel, Detroit Free Press, "Coronavirus delivers chaos for students applying for college: 'Everything is unknown"," 2 Aug. 2020 The long-term future remains a question mark for Shift and other car dealers. Anna Kramer, SFChronicle.com, "Car sales surge as Bay Area shifts away from transit," 2 Aug. 2020 Of greatest relevance for our long-term survival is identifying large objects on a collision course with the Earth, similar to the Chicxulub asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "A Movie of the Evolving Universe, Potentially Scary," 2 Aug. 2020 Even with online performances filling the gap, studio owners worry about the long-term impacts of not being able to perform for a live audience. Danielle Duclos, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage dancers are back in the studio, but COVID-19 is pushing them to reimagine their art," 2 Aug. 2020 Opponents decried plans to withdraw water for generating electricity in an area wracked by a long-term drought, and cited its probable threats to the endangered humpback chub, among other ecological impacts. Debra Utacia Krol, The Arizona Republic, "Navajo Nation issues opposition letter to Little Colorado confluence dam project," 2 Aug. 2020 But Detroit’s front office sees Garcia as someone who can become a long term asset in the Tigers’ rotation. Charlie Goldsmith, The Enquirer, "Best Bets: Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers set to make history Sunday," 2 Aug. 2020 When Privacy Shield was announced in 2016, my colleagues and I were skeptical about its long-term prospects. David Meyer, Fortune, "The U.S. and EU’s key data-protection deal is dead. How one of the world’s biggest data brokers is adapting," 2 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Bill Clinton, whose career was frequently likened to McKay’s, had been president for six desultory years of what is now termed neoliberalism. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Two Movies That Define Today’s Democrats," 11 Mar. 2020 By the end of it, 19 Indian jawans were killed and about 30 were injured in what was termed the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir in nearly two and a half decades. Nikhil Inamdar, Quartz India, "An Indian startup’s “sharp-eye” technology can prevent Uri-like militant attacks," 15 Jan. 2020 Previously, refunds were only available to games that were canceled, but games not played in March and April were officially termed postponed by MLB. Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers offer refunds or credit to ticket holders for home games in March, April," 30 Apr. 2020 Kliff Kingsbury certainly looked relaxed in his James Bond-style living space, termed that by the brilliant Nora Princiotti of the Boston Globe. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "NFL power rankings: Arizona Cardinals a Top 10 team after 2020 NFL draft?," 28 Apr. 2020 It was reported yesterday, however, that he has been reassigned in a move the report termed sudden. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Head of US’ pandemic vaccine group says he was demoted in retaliation," 22 Apr. 2020 Krug ailing Torey Krug caught the bug working its way through the Bruins’ dressing room and was termed a game-time decision. Matt Porter, BostonGlobe.com, "David Backes gets back on the ice," 9 Jan. 2020 Some of these have been famous for grace and elegance, others more infamous for what could be termed jaw-slackening design. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Aston Martin Vantage Zagato V12 Coupe, Speedster Pair Revealed," 21 Apr. 2020 People that are working minimum wage jobs, working on the farms or driving trucks or cleaning hospitals — all those who are now termed essential workers. Mirel Zaman, refinery29.com, "I Tested The Coronavirus Vaccine A Month Ago. Here’s What The Last Four Weeks Have Been Like," 17 Apr. 2020

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

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Term.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/term. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for term


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


\ 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

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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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