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 That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore.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

Theresa Caputo is one of the country's most famous psychic mediums, offering private readings and speaking to large groups, but the Long Island Medium star initially struggled to come to terms with her ability. Temi Adebowale, Good Housekeeping, "Here's How to Get a Reading With "Long Island Medium" Theresa Caputo," 22 Oct. 2018 Rico would arrive with a significant level of culture and technical pedigree which would surely establish the Spaniard as first choice next term, should Bournemouth complete a deal with Leganes. SI.com, "Bournemouth Switch Attention to Leganes Full Back as Cherries Baulk at Kieran Tierney Asking Price," 13 July 2018 One year ago this weekend, the six-term senator and former prisoner of war was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "A year after John McCain's cancer diagnosis, Cindy McCain expresses gratitude to caregivers," 13 July 2018 Obviously, the best time to start thinking about modifying your coverage is a couple months before your existing term expires. Ron Hurtibise, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Do you have enough homeowner insurance? Here's how to find out," 13 July 2018 Of deregulation during President Jimmy Carter’s and President Bill Clinton’s terms. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "Andy Levin looks to take dad Sander Levin's seat in Congress," 13 July 2018 Both women won six-year terms in 2007 as write-ins. Zak Koeske, Daily Southtown, "For years, there's been no financial oversight at the Calumet Park library. Now the state is getting involved.," 13 July 2018 But there’s also hope for Trump: Only 20 percent of respondents thought Obama was the best or second-best president when Pew conducted a similar survey in 2011, during Obama’s first term. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Americans were asked to name the best president of their lifetime, and Obama won," 11 July 2018 Hints of Primitive Cognition But Dussutour wanted to push further and see whether that habituating memory could be recalled in the long term. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Finally, someone with symptoms of bipolar disorder that don’t fit neatly into the above buckets can have what is termed Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders, the NIMH explains. 7. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "14 Facts About Bipolar Disorder That Everyone Should Know," 27 Sep. 2018 They would be termed innumerate — unskilled at working with numbers. Sandy Bauers, Philly.com, "Fear of math is harmful to your health. This woman wants to help.," 29 June 2018 Biohacking is termed as a do-it-yourself movement in biology, medicine and genetics. William Thornton, AL.com, "Biohacker CEO Aaron Traywick, Montevallo grad, found dead," 1 May 2018 Marve’s second suspension came at the end of the season when he was held out of the Emerald Bowl for what then-UM coach Randy Shannon termed a violation of team rules. Christy Cabrera Chirinos, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Report: Ex-UM quarterback Robert Marve facing sexual assault, battery allegations," 12 July 2018 Trauss is campaigning to replace termed-out District Six Supervisor Jane Kim in November. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "SF District Six candidate Sonja Trauss misses matching funds deadline," 2 July 2018 Insurance commissioner Two Democrats and an independent are seeking to replace termed-out Democrat Dave Jones. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Hard-fought attorney general’s race highlights down-ballot California contests," 10 May 2018 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

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

12 Nov 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

What made you want to look up term? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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