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

And her face at the climax, the play of emotions as the plot machinery reaches its inevitable terminus, rivals the Satanists’ glorying at the infernal infant at the end of Rosemary’s Baby as the most sinister possible expression of delight. Ross Douthat, National Review, "Midsommar Casts a Transfixing Scandinavian Spell," 25 July 2019 At the foot of the mountain is one terminus of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries 300,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, the province to the east of British Columbia. The Economist, "The environmentThe environment is Canada’s biggest wedge issue," 25 July 2019 The land, as well of hundreds more acres east of state Route 67 near the eastern terminus of Poway Road and next to the Iron Mountain trail head and parking lot, is viewed as critical by environmentalists and hiking advocates. San Diego Union-Tribune, "County nears purchase of 160 acres of open space near Poway’s Iron Mountain," 10 July 2019 AC Transit’s 800 bus runs along the Interstate 80 corridor from Richmond station, and the 801 stops at Fremont, right before the terminus at Warm Springs. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "BART’s end of the line surges with homeless as misery plays out each night," 22 June 2019 The terminus, the West Kowloon station, opened last September and is subject to Chinese laws. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Hong Kong protesters seek to educate mainland Chinese about their struggle around city train station," 8 July 2019 The lock marks the southern terminus of the canal, which stretched 45 miles from Wrightsville, Pa., to Havre de Grace, and was completed in 1840. Frederick N. Rasmussen, baltimoresun.com, "Jane B. Viele, whose 18th-century Harford County home was a 'must see' on house and garden tours, dies," 29 June 2019 Its western terminus is Millennium Station, also accessible, on the southwest corner of Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "America’s newest national park, Indiana Dunes, is also the closest one to Milwaukee," 20 Feb. 2019 Chinese immigration officers in a Hong Kong train station, the terminus of a new high-speed rail link with China. Washington Post, "Protesters say storming of legislature born of desperation," 6 July 2019

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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Statistics for terminus

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terminus

The first known use of terminus was circa 1617

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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 termini (audio) , -​ˌnē How to pronounce termini (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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More from Merriam-Webster on terminus

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with terminus

Spanish Central: Translation of terminus

Nglish: Translation of terminus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about terminus

Comments on terminus

What made you want to look up terminus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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