tern

noun \ ˈtərn \

Definition of tern

: any of various chiefly marine birds (subfamily Sterninae of the family Laridae and especially genus Sterna) that differ from the related gulls in usually smaller size, a more slender build, a sharply pointed bill, narrower wings, and an often forked tail

Recent Examples of tern from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tern.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Illustration of tern

Origin and Etymology of tern

of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish terne tern


TERN Defined for English Language Learners

tern

noun

Definition of tern for English Language Learners

  • : a kind of bird that lives near the ocean, is usually black and white, and has long wings and a tail with two points


TERN Defined for Kids

tern

noun \ ˈtərn \

Definition of tern for Students

: a small slender seagull with a white body, narrow wings, and the top of the head black


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