ter·​mi·​nal | \ˈtərm-nəl, ˈtər-mə-nᵊl\

Definition of terminal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : leading ultimately to death : fatal terminal cancer

(2) : approaching or close to death : being in the final stages of a fatal disease a terminal patient

(3) : of or relating to patients with a terminal illness terminal care

b : of, relating to, or occurring in a term or each term terminal payments

c : extremely or hopelessly severe terminal boredom

2a : of or relating to an end, extremity, boundary, or terminus a terminal pillar

b : growing at the end of a branch or stem a terminal bud

3a : occurring at or constituting the end of a period or series : concluding the terminal moments of life

b : not intended as preparation for further academic work a terminal curriculum



Definition of terminal (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : either end of a carrier line having facilities for the handling of freight and passengers

b : a freight or passenger station that is central to a considerable area or serves as a junction at any point with other lines

c : a town or city at the end of a carrier line : terminus

2 : a combination of a keyboard and output device (such as a video display unit) by which data can be entered into or output from a computer or electronic communications system

3 : a device attached to the end of a wire or cable or to an electrical apparatus for convenience in making connections

4 : a part that forms the end : extremity, termination

5 : a terminating usually ornamental detail : finial

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Other Words from terminal


terminally adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for terminal

Synonyms: Adjective

baleful, deadly, deathly, fatal, fell, killer, lethal, mortal, murderous, pestilent, vital

Antonyms: Adjective

healthful, healthy, nonfatal, nonlethal, wholesome

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Choose the Right Synonym for terminal


last, final, terminal, ultimate mean following all others (as in time, order, or importance). last applies to something that comes at the end of a series but does not always imply that the series is completed or stopped. last page of a book last news we had of him final applies to that which definitely closes a series, process, or progress. final day of school terminal may indicate a limit of extension, growth, or development. terminal phase of a disease ultimate implies the last degree or stage of a long process beyond which further progress or change is impossible. the ultimate collapse of the system

Examples of terminal in a Sentence


She was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was suffering from terminal boredom. another person with terminal stupidity branches that end in a terminal bud


I will meet you outside the bus terminal. Flight 1584 is now departing from Gate 6 in Terminal A. You are not allowed in the terminal without a ticket. Ten terminals are connected to this server. You will need to clean the corrosion off the battery terminals.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Like a terminal diagnosis, a black hole does not always have the last word. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, "Remembering Stephen Hawking: Gifts from an unbounded mind," 14 Mar. 2018 While not always terminal, sadly in Garrett’s case his cancer became resistant to treatment and spread even further. PEOPLE.com, "5-Year-Old Boy Dying of Cancer Prepares His Own Amazing Obituary: 'See Ya Later, Suckas!'," 12 July 2018 In the meantime, with both major political parties in the U.K. in terminal disarray, its government on the verge of collapse, and its relationship with Europe tainted, that Russian money is looking ever more well-spent. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "The Brexit Crisis Finally Engulfs the Party That Started It," 11 July 2018 Airline trade groups, however, have opposed a fee increase, saying a hike will discourage people from flying and is not needed because air carriers are already investing heavily in terminal upgrades. Hugo Martin, latimes.com, "U.S. airports near new passenger record as demand for air travel continues to grow," 6 July 2018 Alfie Evans is a nearly 2-year-old British toddler with a mysterious, terminal degenerative neurological condition. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The controversy surrounding terminally ill British toddler Alfie Evans, explained," 27 Apr. 2018 The strategy, along with other immuno-oncology, or IO approaches, has been remarkably effective in a small subset of cancer patients—and has even cured some people with terminal disease. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "A Cancer Blockbuster Gets Approved in China. Will the Floodgates Now Open?," 15 June 2018 Previous episodes have hinted at his suffering some terminal disease, and this one suggested that his sleek apartment was a sort of lab, a holding cell sealing him off from the world as doctors searched for a cure. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Westworld and the Question of Immortality," 13 May 2018 But the power of patient-lobbyists became apparent after a successful campaign by AIDS patients led to government action and a national push to find drugs to treat the then-terminal disease. NBC News, "Patient advocacy groups take in millions from drugmakers. Is there a payback?," 8 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Food, beverage and retail sales in the terminal accounted for another $42.5 million, or almost 20 percent, of the airport's revenue. Ely Portillo, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte’s airport manages ‘tricky balance’ between low-cost hub and fancy new gates," 12 July 2018 Pipelines in the Zueitina oil terminal in Zueitina, west of Benghazi, Libya. Sarah Mcfarlane, WSJ, "Brent Crude Rises on Libya Supply Crunch," 4 July 2018 Too Many Zooz played at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage Saturday evening, but the trio might as well have been trying out moves in a subway terminal in its home base of New York City. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 4: In Real Life, Kaleo, Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang and more," 30 June 2018 Indonesia’s Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, who face the death penalty if convicted, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Kim in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13, 2017. Washington Post, "Prosecutor: Suspects in N. Korean death are trained killers," 28 June 2018 The photograph showed four young Eritrean men in the departure terminal at Ben Gurion International Airport. Brian Goldstone, The New Republic, "Essential reporting, interpretation, and opinion on politics and culture. Don't miss our latest.," 26 June 2018 Collisions with jet bridges, which connect aircraft to the airport terminal, were a common source of damage, so the airline began putting markers on planes to help jet bridge operators avoid hitting them. Lauren Zumbach, chicagotribune.com, "From birthday wishes for passengers to tracking baggage handler injuries, airlines tap big data to try to improve operations," 12 July 2018 Expanding Trans Mountain -- in operation since 1953 -- would move an additional 590,000 barrels a day from Alberta's oil sands to a terminal near Vancouver. Houston Chronicle, "Canada's Trudeau seeks talks with Kinder Morgan to get pipeline built," 16 Apr. 2018 Mitchell is recommending that travelers catch a ride to the terminal rather than drive and park — at least through Thursday. Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Spring break jam: Parking lots stuffed at Midwest airports," 28 Mar. 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


1838, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for terminal


Latin terminalis, from terminus

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Statistics for terminal

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terminal

The first known use of terminal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for terminal



English Language Learners Definition of terminal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: causing death eventually : leading finally to death

: having an illness that cannot be cured and that will soon lead to death

: of or relating to patients who have a terminal illness



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

: a building where buses or trains regularly stop so that passengers can get on and off

: a building at an airport where people get on and off airplanes

: a computer or a combination of a keyboard and a video display that is connected to a system and used for entering or receiving data


ter·​mi·​nal | \ˈtər-mə-nᵊl \

Kids Definition of terminal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: relating to or forming an end branches with terminal buds



Kids Definition of terminal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : either end of a transportation line or a passenger or freight station located at it the bus terminal

2 : a device (as in a computer system) used to put in, receive, and display information He typed his request into the terminal.

3 : a device at the end of a wire or on a machine for making an electrical connection


ter·​mi·​nal | \ˈtərm-nəl, -ən-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of terminal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being at an end, extremity, boundary, or terminus the terminal phalanx of a finger

2a : leading ultimately to death : fatal terminal cancer

b : approaching or close to death : being in the final stages of a fatal disease a terminal patient

c : of or relating to patients with a terminal illness terminal care

3 : being at or near the end of a chain of atoms making up a molecule the terminal carbon

Other Words from terminal

terminally \ -​ē \ adverb



Medical Definition of terminal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a part that forms an end especially : nerve ending synthesis of a neurotransmitter in the presynaptic terminal of a neuron — R. J. Wurtman

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