ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˈtər-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce terminate (audio) \
terminated; terminating

Definition of terminate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to form an ending
2 : to come to an end in time
3 : to extend only to a limit (such as a point or line) especially : to reach a terminus

transitive verb

1a : to bring to an end : close terminate a marriage by divorce terminate a transmission line
b : to discontinue the employment of workers terminated because of slow business
c : to form the conclusion of review questions terminate each chapter
2 : to serve as an ending, limit, or boundary of


ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˈtər-mə-nət How to pronounce terminate (audio) \

Definition of terminate (Entry 2 of 2)

: coming to an end or capable of ending

Synonyms & Antonyms for terminate

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for terminate


close, end, conclude, finish, complete, terminate mean to bring or come to a stopping point or limit. close usually implies that something has been in some way open as well as unfinished. close a debate end conveys a strong sense of finality. ended his life conclude may imply a formal closing (as of a meeting). the service concluded with a blessing finish may stress completion of a final step in a process. after it is painted, the house will be finished complete implies the removal of all deficiencies or a successful finishing of what has been undertaken. the resolving of this last issue completes the agreement terminate implies the setting of a limit in time or space. your employment terminates after three months

Examples of terminate in a Sentence

Verb The branches of that tree terminate in flower clusters. The rail line terminates in Boston. You have to terminate the program before the computer will shut down properly. His contract was terminated last month. He was terminated last month. Plans are being made to terminate unproductive employees. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The decision to terminate the China Initiative also creates a strange juxtaposition. Robert S. Eitel, National Review, 1 Mar. 2022 Our decision to terminate Andy Polo’s contract was based on that new information. oregonlive, 24 Feb. 2022 Another item in the bill text is $53 billion that stems in part from states opting to terminate the pandemic unemployment benefits early to push the jobless to return to work. Don Lincoln, CNN, 10 Aug. 2021 Senate Bill 953, a proposal that cleared its first hurdle Tuesday, would allow the State Lands Commission to terminate offshore oil leases by the end of 2024 if purchase agreements with oil companies cannot be negotiated beforehand. Phil Willonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 Disney declined to comment on the Florida house and senate’s vote to terminate the Reedy Creek district. Christopher Palmeri, Fortune, 22 Apr. 2022 The Biden administration has announced its plan to terminate Title 42 on May 23, a public health order that has been used since March 2020 to quickly expel a majority of migrants at the border due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly Laco, Fox News, 15 Apr. 2022 These issues prompted federal regulators to terminate Laguna Honda’s contract for reimbursement payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which sustain much of the hospital’s operations. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Apr. 2022 The company said in its most recent annual report that due in part to pandemic restrictions, the monitorship program faced delays but that it is now scheduled to terminate on Dec. 31. Richard Vanderford, WSJ, 14 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That control gave Puglisi the sole authority to set up new credit card accounts, change spending limits, manage card access and terminate accounts. Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'terminate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of terminate


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for terminate


Middle English, from Latin terminatus, past participle of terminare, from terminus

Learn More About terminate

Time Traveler for terminate

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for terminate

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Terminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terminate. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for terminate


ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˈtər-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce terminate (audio) \
terminated; terminating

Kids Definition of terminate

: end entry 2, close I terminated my membership.


ter·​mi·​nate | \ ˈtər-mə-ˌnāt How to pronounce terminate (audio) \
terminated; terminating

Legal Definition of terminate

intransitive verb

: to come to an end in time or effect

transitive verb

1 : to bring to a definite end especially before a natural conclusion terminate a contract — compare cancel, rescind
2 : to discontinue the employment of

Other Words from terminate

termination \ ˌtər-​mə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce terminate (audio) \ noun

More from Merriam-Webster on terminate

Nglish: Translation of terminate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terminate for Arabic Speakers


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