\ 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 That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore.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 Back to ball Burgett’s basketball biography is up there in terms of coolness. Tom Noie, Indianapolis Star, "How Notre Dame's Austin Burgett rediscovered love of basketball," 29 Mar. 2020 If the Trump Administration had shown a similar alacrity in responding to the outbreak of the virus in China, the country would be in a much better place, in terms of both a public-health and an economic perspective. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Most Effective Stimulus Is Doing Whatever It Takes to Control the Coronavirus," 28 Mar. 2020 Sorkin’s studio has been collecting ways to make the metropolis completely self-sufficient in terms of its food systems, waste management, water systems, mobility, manufacturing, and local climate. Anne Quito, Quartz, "Michael Sorkin, architecture’s brilliant sage, has died of complications from Covid-19," 28 Mar. 2020 The framing—in terms of the adverse economic consequences of our policies versus the adverse health consequences of our policies—is dead wrong in two respects. Will Knight, Wired, "A Rush Back to 'Normal' Would Be the Blunder of the Century," 28 Mar. 2020 The website FiveThirtyEight, which keeps a tally of how often every member of Congress votes with or against Trump, shows Massie has the third-worst rating among the 197 House Republicans in terms of voting in line with the president. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "President Donald Trump: Throw Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie out of the GOP," 27 Mar. 2020 But in terms of total bases, Lamar is last with 158. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "Mata, Garivey did their best to keep Lamar’s struggling offense afloat," 26 Mar. 2020 Any similarities should be considered weak in terms of attribution and may simply be techniques copied from previous well-known cases. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Never-before-seen attackers are targeting Mideast industrial organizations," 25 Mar. 2020 The events that followed from that day last September would have long-term implications for the Jayne family. Mandy Mclaren, courier-journal.com, "'We just didn’t know what else to do.' How one family reached its breaking point with JCPS," 25 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Cassidy termed Nordstrom’s absence from practice a maintenance day . . . Matt Porter, BostonGlobe.com, "Bruce Cassidy pushing team with internal competition," 3 Feb. 2020 Evander Kane only made his season debut on Tuesday after serving a three-game suspension for what the league termed physical abuse of an official in the team’s final preseason game on Sept. 30. Ross Mckeon, SFChronicle.com, "Sharks sign Patrick Marleau, bringing franchise icon home to San Jose," 8 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

24 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Term.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/term. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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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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