\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a word or expression that has a precise meaning in some uses or is peculiar to a science, art, profession, or subject legal terms
b terms plural : expression of a specified kind described in glowing terms
2a : a limited or definite extent of time especially : the time for which something lasts : duration, tenure term of office lost money in the short term
b : the whole period for which an estate is granted also : the estate or interest held by one for a term
c : the time during which a court is in session
3 : division in a school year during which instruction is regularly given to students
4 terms plural : provisions that determine the nature and scope of an agreement : conditions terms of sale liberal credit terms

5 terms plural

a : mutual relationship : footing on good terms
b : agreement, concord come to terms after extensive negotiations
c : a state of acceptance or understanding came to terms with the failure of his marriage
6a : the time at which a pregnancy of normal length terminates had her baby at full term
b : end, termination also : a point in time assigned to something (such as a payment)
7a : a unitary or compound expression connected with another by a plus or minus sign
b : an element of a fraction or proportion or of a series or sequence
8 : any of the three substantive elements of a syllogism
9 : a quadrangular pillar often tapering downward and adorned on the top with the figure of a head or the upper part of the body
in terms of
: with respect to or in relation to thinks of everything in terms of money
on one's own terms
: in accordance with one's wishes : in one's own way prefers to live on his own terms


termed; terming; terms

Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to apply a term to : call, name

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Synonyms for term

Synonyms: Noun

hitch, stint, tenure, tour

Synonyms: Verb

baptize, call, christen, clepe [archaic], denominate, designate, dub, entitle, label, name, nominate, style, title

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Examples of term in a Sentence


“I had the feeling that I had been there before.” “The term for that is ‘déjà vu.’” That's an outdated term that no one uses anymore. He spoke about them in glowing terms. The law had been understood in broad terms. The governor will run for a second term. He is currently serving his third term in the U.S. Senate. He was sentenced to a ten-year term in the state penitentiary. The term of the contract is 60 months. His grades have improved since last term. English 122 is not offered this term.


They termed the structure a “double helix.” The project was termed a success.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

My biggest impression is simply how much the dominant candidates agree in terms of basic values: There was a lot of sympathy for vulnerable groups that can and should be helped by direct political action. Tyler Cowen, Twin Cities, "Tyler Cowen: Marianne Williamson is just what the Democratic Party needs," 5 July 2019 In terms of hair, Turner opted to wear it down in loose waves with a middle part — simple, sweet, and sophisticated all at once. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas Just Shared Their First Wedding Photos," 5 July 2019 There’s a different kind of pressure, beyond the album follow-up, in terms of both fans and critics developing a perception of you. Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit indie rocker Stef Chura earns glowing reviews for new album 'Midnight'," 5 July 2019 This would come as no surprise given the steep slump in India’s construction sector, both in terms of output and employment, in the past few years. Jayati Ghosh, Quartz India, "Reviving India’s household savings and investments should be the budget’s top concern," 5 July 2019 But the fans are resoundingly clear on this one: the player that has stood out the most in terms of changing the team’s fortunes is Abubakar. Mark Goodman, The Denver Post, "Colorado Rapids midseason awards: Best save, MVP, biggest dud and more," 4 July 2019 This should really allow Booker to stay in scoring mode at all times and lessen his load in terms of having to create for others. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "NBA free agency: Phoenix Suns take small step toward return to playoffs with roster rebuild," 3 July 2019 The pressure for every test to go right is higher than normal right now, thanks to Vice President Mike Pence keeping the foot on the pedal in terms of getting to the Moon soon. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "NASA Successfully Tests Orion Ejection System," 3 July 2019 In terms of mass, Orion is a very heavy vehicle with its launch escape system, about 26 tons. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Orion spacecraft flew Tuesday morning, and it looked pretty spectacular," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The death of a 43-year-old man can only be termed untimely. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Stephen King says every day is 'a gift' 20 years after nearly losing leg in road accident," 19 June 2019 British critics termed it ‘‘revolutionary,’’ and the director used it as the basis of frequent later productions and the 1968 film. Colleen Barry, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Romeo and Juliet’ director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96," 15 June 2019 The Diamondbacks, who already were without several everyday players, lost right fielder Adam Jones to what the team termed right hamstring tightness. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Same old blues: Diamondbacks still can't solve Dodgers puzzle," 5 June 2019 Into the swamps Mangrove swamps are ecosystems that develop thanks to a number of species of salt-tolerant trees, collectively termed mangroves, that flourish in the tropics. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "More mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones," 4 June 2019 Four candidates are running to replace San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, who will be termed-out this year after having spent 23 years representing District 5, which covers much of the North County from Carlsbad and Oceanside to Borrego Springs. J. Harry Jones, sandiegouniontribune.com, "5th District Board of Supervisors: Candidate profiles," 31 May 2018 Quantum key distribution in less than 500 words The goal of quantum key distribution is to generate a random number that is securely shared between two people, always termed Alice and Bob. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Conservation of energy used to parallelize quantum key distribution," 17 Dec. 2018 Nine out of the 11 were what are termed DNA-intercalating agents. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Bacteria engage in chemical warfare against viruses," 5 Dec. 2018 Justify is about 100 pounds heavier, hence Baffert terming him the LeBron James to American Pharoah’s Michael Jordan. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Preakness 2018 preview: Justify's rapid ascent puts race favorite in same company as American Pharoah," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'term.' 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 term


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 6b


1545, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for term


Middle English terme, from Anglo-French, from Latin terminus boundary marker, limit; akin to Greek termōn boundary, end, Sanskrit tarman top of a post

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Statistics for term

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for term

The first known use of term was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for term



Financial Definition of term

What It Is

In the finance world, a term is the length of time until a debt matures. A term can also be a condition of a deal, as evidenced by the phrase term sheet, which describes the terms of a deal.

How It Works

Let's say Company XYZ wants to borrow $1 million to build a factory. It meets with its bank, ABC Bank, to negotiate the loan. The company and the bank agree to a 10-year loan with quarterly payments and a 7% interest rate. In this case, the term is 10 years.

Why It Matters

The longer the term of a piece of debt, the lower the payments usually are. However, the interest rate may be higher due to the lender's increased risk exposure.

In the second instance, when two companies are negotiating a deal and are working through a term sheet, one term may have more influence over the deal than another and thus may create significant sticking points.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word or phrase that has an exact meaning
: the particular kinds of words used to describe someone or something
: the length of time during which a person has an official or political office



English Language Learners Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give a particular name or description to (something) : to call (something) by a particular name or to describe (something) in a particular way


\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Kids Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a word or expression that has an exact meaning in some uses or is limited to a subject or field legal terms
2 : a period of time fixed especially by law or custom a school term
3 terms plural : conditions that limit the nature and scope of something (as a treaty or a will) the terms of a contract
4 terms plural : relationship between people I'm on good terms with the neighbors.
5 : any one of the numbers in a series
6 : the numerator or denominator of a fraction


termed; terming

Kids Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

: to call by a particular name “… it pleases him to be termed Emperor rather than King.”— L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz

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\ ˈtərm How to pronounce term (audio) \

Medical Definition of term

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the time at which a pregnancy of normal length terminates had her baby at full term



Medical Definition of term (Entry 2 of 2)

: carried to, occurring at, or associated with full term a term infant term births


noun, often attributive

Legal Definition of term

1 : a specified period of time the policy term
2 : the whole period for which an estate is granted also : the estate itself
3a : the period in which the powers of a court may be validly exercised
b : session
4 : a word, phrase, or provision of import especially in determining the nature and scope of an agreement usually used in pl. the terms of the contract

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More from Merriam-Webster on term

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with term

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for term

Spanish Central: Translation of term

Nglish: Translation of term for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of term for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about term

Comments on term

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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