\ ˈtərm \

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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Examples of term in a Sentence


“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 That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore.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.


They termed the structure a “double helix.” The project was termed a success.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Western officers talk of the need for a long-term commitment to train, equip and assist local forces, and to give them air support when needed. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 Weltman, General Manager John Hammond and new coach Steve Clifford regard the process of developing Isaac and Bamba as a delicate, long-term project. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba gave Magic hope at summer league," 14 July 2018 In a field where disconnect abounds, its annual workshop is a chance for academics to brush shoulders with emergency management officials, sociologists, engineers, rescuers and those involved in longer-term recovery. Jason Pohl, azcentral, "Fires, floods, hurricanes: Disaster experts weigh ‘new normal’," 14 July 2018 Fitbit devices only store data for a week unless backed up to a computer, further complicating the ability to consider long term data when trying to assess if an irregular heart rhythm is a consistent problem over time. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Fishers teen discovers she has heart defect after wearing Fitbit," 14 July 2018 The 25-year-old arrived in London on Thursday, as reported by Sky Sports, having already agreed personal terms ahead of his move to the London Stadium. SI.com, "Lazio Star Felipe Anderson Undergoing West Ham Medical as Club Record Move Edges Closer," 13 July 2018 That is a key reason that Fed officials expect to raise short-term rates twice more this year. Christopher Rugaber, Fox News, "US inflation reaches 2.9 percent in June, highest in 6 years," 13 July 2018 Tentative terms of the deal were not disclosed in a morning announcement. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "UPS reaches a tentative agreement on a contract with the Teamsters," 13 July 2018 Police said Daniels' arrest was part of a long-term human trafficking investigation of adult clubs. Andrew Welsh-hugging, Cincinnati.com, "Stormy Daniels arrested: Officers' motivations to be reviewed," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered what could be termed an interesting response to the heightened trade hostilities in a news conference with reporters yesterday at the White House. Rachel Van Dongen, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump's trade war is getting very real," 3 July 2018 Cordero was shut down for a time in May and went on the disabled list May 27 with what was termed a forearm strain at the time. Kevin Acee, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres lose Franchy Cordero for extended period," 19 June 2018 Norris’ rehabilitation is going well, despite what Gardenhire termed a setback recently. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers' Daniel Norris 'needed' to hit reset button. Here's why," 10 July 2018 The two men subsequently spoke by telephone in what both termed a cordial and respectful conversation. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, latimes.com, "Mexico's Lopez Obrador taps longtime loyalist as nominee for top diplomat and invites Trump to inauguration," 6 July 2018 The Afghan government expects the gathering to term the Taliban insurgency and use of suicide attacks in Afghanistan as unlawful, like similar such meetings have recently in Kabul and in Jakarta. Sayed Salahuddin, BostonGlobe.com, "Fresh violence kills over 15 in Afghanistan as Islamic scholars debate Taliban war," 11 July 2018 The Afghan government expects the gathering to term the Taliban insurgency and use of suicide attacks in Afghanistan as unlawful, as similar meetings have recently in Kabul and in Jakarta. Sayed Salahuddin, Washington Post, "Fresh violence kills over 15 in Afghanistan as Islamic scholars debate Taliban war," 10 July 2018 The overall objective was removal — or what was variably termed self-deportation, exile or banishment. Martha S. Jones, Time, "How the 14th Amendment's Promise of Birthright Citizenship Redefined America," 9 July 2018 The governor paid what city officials termed a social visit to Havre de Grace, spending about three hours in the downtown area Friday evening. Staff Report, The Aegis, "Gov. Hogan visits Havre de Grace," 9 July 2018

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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Statistics for term

Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for term

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

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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



English Language Learners Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word or phrase that has an exact meaning

terms : 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 \

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 \

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

b : session

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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Comments on term

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