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

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 According to the association, the 6.4-mile trail follows a former Native American trail and runs from Kent to its southern terminus on top of the mountain. Peter Marteka, courant.com, "A corkscrew hike to the top of Candlewood Mountain in New Milford," 21 June 2019 Family Gras, scheduled for Feb. 14-16 next year, will be the terminus for four parades. Greg Larose, nola.com, "What Mardi Gras parades are left in Metairie?," 19 June 2019 In addition to exhibits and information, the visitor center is the southern terminus of the Zion National Park Shuttle, which is the only way to reach the heart of the canyon between spring and fall when visitation peaks. Joe Yogerst, National Geographic, "Everything to know about Zion National Park," 9 May 2019 One quarter of the massive terminus will be leased by Hong Kong authorities to their mainland counterparts to allow passengers to pass through both immigration portals in one station. Gerard Gayou, WSJ, "Beijing’s Power Grab in a Train Station," 11 Sep. 2018 There’s a guard at a gatehouse, the sole access point, at the terminus of a dead-end road. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Lake X: Mercury Marine's Secret Boat Testing Site," 27 Dec. 2018 The Self-Realization Lake Shrine, perched in a little hollow at the terminus of Sunset Boulevard just above the Pacific Ocean, is the bizarre, transportive sanctuary dreamed up by Paramahansa Yogananda and opened in 1950. Reif Larsen, The Seattle Times, "LA Reverential: A City’s Chill Spots," 1 Aug. 2018 That line has vastly decreased travel times but also raised concerns about Beijing’s growing influence because mainland Chinese law applies within part of the line’s Hong Kong terminus. Dake Kang, The Seattle Times, "China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland," 23 Oct. 2018

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

12 Jul 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

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