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 Then, in 2014, a more severe retreat began, sending the terminus 2 kilometers beyond its previous low. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019 Students at Petersburg High School near LeConte Bay started collecting data about the position of the glacier’s terminus in 1983. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Alaskan glaciers melting 100 times faster than previously thought," 25 July 2019 That concept includes some sort of connection across Route 1A, to link the current Blue Line terminus with the commuter line. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "Lawmakers revive Blue Line extension idea," 22 July 2019 Each spring and fall, park workers go to the glacier to get detailed measurements of its terminus position. Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News, "Retreating Exit Glacier has become an icon of climate change," 4 Aug. 2017 Just this year, Windows 7 reached its terminus, prompting users to finally make the jump to Windows 10. Popular Science, "Sonos just reminded everyone that every smart gadget has an expiration date," 24 Jan. 2020 The Airport Express, which runs to the city’s central business district, has sometimes been closed altogether, or skipped stations in between its two terminuses. Natasha Frost, Quartz, "Hong Kong International Airport lost nearly a million passengers in November," 15 Dec. 2019 Peter van der Waart, chief executive for Purple Line Transit Partners, the team of private companies building the line and helping to finance its construction, said the first segment’s western terminus will depend on where trains can turn around. Washington Post, "Purple Line will open in two phases, with first part in Prince George’s, state says," 19 Sep. 2019 In their first major protest since an unprecedented break-in at the government complex nearly a week ago, Hong Kong demonstrators marched to a controversial railway terminus Sunday in a symbolic attempt to bring their grievances directly to Beijing. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kong Protesters Try to Drum Up Support Among Mainland Chinese Tourists," 7 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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Time Traveler for terminus

Time Traveler

The first known use of terminus was circa 1617

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Statistics for terminus

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terminus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terminus. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for terminus


How to pronounce terminus (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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