ter·​mi·​nus | \ ˈtər-mə-nəs How to pronounce terminus (audio) \
plural termini\ ˈtər-​mə-​ˌnī How to pronounce terminus (audio) , -​ˌnē \ or terminuses

Definition of terminus

1 : either end of a transportation line or travel route also : the station, town, or city at such a place : terminal
2 : an extreme point or element : tip the terminus of a glacier
3 : a final goal : a finishing point
4 : a post or stone marking a boundary

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Did You Know?

This word comes straight from Latin. In the Roman empire, a terminus was a boundary stone, and all boundary stones had a minor god associated with them, whose name was Terminus. Terminus was a kind of keeper of the peace, since wherever there was a terminus there could be no arguments about where your property ended and your neighbor's property began. So Terminus even had his own festival, the Terminalia, when images of the god were draped with flower garlands. Today the word shows up in all kinds of places, including in the name of numerous hotels worldwide built near a city's railway terminus.

Examples of terminus in a Sentence

Stockholm is the terminus for the southbound train. Geologists took samples from the terminus of the glacier. the terminus of the DNA strand
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Recent Examples on the Web Beatriz Muñoz, 38, cleaned trains for six months last year at the terminus of the Q line at 96th Street in Manhattan. New York Times, "What the ‘Invisible’ People Cleaning the Subway Want Riders to Know," 26 Mar. 2021 The Novel Bishop Arts property is at the terminus of the streetcar line, which connects North Oak Cliff with downtown Dallas. Steve Brown, Dallas News, "One of North Oak Cliff’s biggest new developments is for sale," 15 Mar. 2021 The Purple Line is being built inside an existing tunnel that runs beneath Wisconsin and a new office building in the downtown Bethesda Row area, at the 16-mile line’s western terminus. Washington Post, "Montgomery asks state if Purple Line can be single-tracked in Bethesda station," 3 Mar. 2021 In places where no barriers previously existed, such as the rugged terrain where the Arizona Trail winds to its terminus, the Trump administration built a total of 47 miles of new primary wall. New York Times, "Trump’s Incomplete Border Wall Is in Pieces That Could Linger for Decades," 16 Mar. 2021 About 10 minutes after the chase started, deputies found the car, which had crashed near the terminus of Valley View Place at Jack Rabbit Acres — which is just blocks from where the chase began. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "High speed chase called off for safety reasons, but fleeing car later plows into parked vehicle," 5 Mar. 2021 The ceremony for the $7.9 million Beechmont Bridge Connector was to have been held at the terminus of the trail near Ohio 32 and Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "Flooding delays groundbreaking for Beechmont Bridge Connector in Anderson Township," 5 Mar. 2021 Mount Katahdin, Maine Best known as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, this Baxter State Park hike still rewards day trippers. Larry Bleiberg, USA TODAY, "Plan your next hike at one of these mountain trails with sweeping views, physical challenges," 28 Feb. 2021 On July 15, 2019, that’s what happened when a Chevy Cobalt plunged more than 50 feet from a stretch of Clingmans Dome Road near its terminus, killing the driver and injuring a passenger. Washington Post, "Danger lurks in national parks, but not necessarily where you expect it," 25 Feb. 2021

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

circa 1617, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for terminus

Latin, boundary marker, limit — more at term entry 1

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Time Traveler for terminus

Time Traveler

The first known use of terminus was circa 1617

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Statistics for terminus

Last Updated

1 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terminus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terminus. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for terminus



English Language Learners Definition of terminus

: the end of a travel route (such as a rail or bus line) or the station at the end of a travel route
technical : the end of something


ter·​mi·​nus | \ ˈtər-mə-nəs How to pronounce terminus (audio) \
plural termini\ -​ˌnī , -​ˌnē \ or terminuses

Kids Definition of terminus

1 : an ending point
2 : the end of a travel route
3 : a station at the end of a travel route


ter·​mi·​nus | \ ˈtər-mə-nəs How to pronounce terminus (audio) \
plural termini\ -​ˌnī How to pronounce terminus (audio) , -​ˌnē How to pronounce terminus (audio) \ also terminuses

Medical Definition of terminus

: an end or ending especially of a molecular chain, a chromosome, or a process of a nerve cell

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Comments on terminus

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