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 four-member board voted unanimously in a meeting Sunday evening to terminate James-Ward’s contract without cause effective Aug. 15. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 June 2022 Acklin sued the district in November 2020 after the school board voted 4-3 to terminate his contract earlier that year. Neal Earley, Arkansas Online, 27 June 2022 Inter Miami CF and midfielder Mo Adams agreed to mutually terminate his contract this past week. Brett Shweky, Sun Sentinel, 13 June 2022 In 2020, Sisson led a group that successfully lobbied for the Milwaukee Public School District to terminate its contract with city police. Nicquel Terry Ellis, CNN, 7 June 2022 Pocatello, Idaho — Idaho State assistant football coach DaVonte' Neal has been arrested on suspicion of killing a man in Arizona and the school intends to terminate his contract. CBS News, 3 June 2022 Otherwise, an employer would be able to terminate the contract without consequence and find a different employee for the position instead. Danielle Abril, Washington Post, 13 May 2022 The couple was eventually able to get the seller to return their $60,000 deposit and terminate the contract. Ross Martin, WSJ, 4 Feb. 2022 He was put on waivers in July to terminate his contract after the assault allegation became public. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 27 Jan. 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

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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

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Terminate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terminate. Accessed 13 Aug. 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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