ter·mi·nus | \ˈtər-mə-nəs \
plural termini\ˈtər-mə-ˌnī, -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

At the southern terminus in the Rusch Preserve near Rib Lake, the trail connects with the Rib Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's highest point - Timm's Hill - is a quiet escape away from everything," 5 July 2018 And of course, across the street from that, is the first terminus of the B&O Railroad, the oldest in the United States. Janet Kusterer, Howard County Times, "Flood doesn't diminish passion for Ellicott City [Mostly Main Street]," 14 June 2018 Back then, the journey to the terminus was 10 to 15 kilometers by foot through steep, rocky terrain. The Atlantic, "The Icelandic Families Tracking Climate Change With Measuring Tape," 6 June 2018 Back then, the journey to the terminus was 10 to 15 kilometers by foot through steep, rocky terrain. Gloria Dickie, WIRED, "Humans Tracked Iceland's Glaciers For Ages. Now, Tech Does," 5 June 2018 The northern terminus also has SkyBike, a bike-share program, and all three stations have Avis rental cars and Lyft pick-up and drop-off areas. Meryl Kornfield, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Brightline train stations boost new development in South Florida's downtowns," 3 July 2018 The Canarsie local eased into the Rockaway Parkway station, its southern terminus. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, "Can Andy Byford Save the Subways?," 2 July 2018 Trains would make stops in Holyoke and Northampton before reaching their terminus in Greenfield. David Owens, courant.com, "Massachusetts Plans To Expand Commuter Trains North Of Springfield In 2019," 12 June 2018 That’s a controversial idea to say the least, flying in the face of years of official near-certainty about a southern terminus. Jeff Wise, Popular Mechanics, "What If They Were Looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in the Wrong Place All Along?," 8 June 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

6 Sep 2018

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

: the end of something


ter·mi·nus | \ˈtər-mə-nəs \
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 \
plural termini\-ˌnī, -ˌnē \ 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

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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