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 Approaching its Natchez terminus, the Trace grows wilder. Andrew Nelson, WSJ, "A Deliciously Diverting Road Trip Through the Deep South," 23 Apr. 2021 However, neither terminus has parking, so the best way to get into the heart of the trail is to use the Turley Trailhead that’s tucked into a suburban neighborhood. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "P Mountain is a landmark in Prescott. Here's how to hike the winding trail on its slopes," 8 Apr. 2021 But the notion of the western frontier offering limitless opportunity to colonize—framed as limitless freedom, resources, and promise of transformation—is less attractive when you are raised at its terminus. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "The Women Reinventing the Western," 19 Apr. 2021 Eventually, the Ever Given will depart the lake, sail to and through its northern terminus at Port Said, enter the vast Mediterranean Sea, and press onward to its next destination. Brendan Crowley, Popular Mechanics, "Here’s the Minute-by-Minute Breakdown of the Ever Given’s Crash," 9 Apr. 2021 Instead, consider making the St. Johns Bridge viewpoint the end of a longer day hike, starting at the upper terminus of the Leif Erikson Drive trail and winding through the lush wilderness at the heart of Forest Park. oregonlive, "Forest Park hike leads to an iconic view of the St. Johns Bridge in Northwest Portland," 4 Apr. 2021 At Cady Way’s eastern terminus near Aloma Avenue and Howell Branch Road, trail users can extend their route along the Cross Seminole Trail. Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida Fresh Air: Cady Way Trail provides miles of urban paved path for running, cycling," 12 Mar. 2021 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

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

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terminus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terminus. Accessed 7 May. 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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