tern

noun
\ ˈtərn How to pronounce tern (audio) \

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

Illustration of tern

Illustration of tern

Examples of tern in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There were five Caspian terns at Bathing Beach in Hingham. BostonGlobe.com, "Most read on BostonGlobe.com," 7 Oct. 2019 Royal terns are expected to suffer their largest losses of habitat in the lower Chesapeake Bay region, and piping plovers could also vanish. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "Here’s how a report says climate change will harm Baltimore orioles and other birds in Maryland," 11 Oct. 2019 Avocets, terns and gulls swoop down onto Wallasea Island on England’s eastern coast, searching for food between blades of grass ruffled by the summer sea breeze. Ciara Nugent / Wallasea Island, Time, "The Best Way to Save Nature? More Nature," 12 Sep. 2019 There are more birds now, common terns and healthier sea gulls. Amelia Nierenberg, New York Times, "A Tomato Grows in the East River," 4 Sep. 2019 Nam Island, which is adjacent to the site and was blown in half during the Bravo operation, is home to fairy terns and giant coconut crabs and is a nesting site for sea turtles. Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, "Radiation in parts of the Marshall Islands is far higher than Chernobyl, study says," 15 July 2019 Nam Island, which is adjacent to the site and was blown in half during the Bravo operation, is home to fairy terns and giant coconut crabs and is a nesting site for sea turtles. Susanne Rust, latimes.com, "Radioactivity in parts of the Marshall Islands is far higher than Chernobyl, study says," 15 July 2019 Tropic birds, shearwaters, petrels, terns, boobies, and other birds of the open ocean roost and forage on sargassum mats. David Doubilet, National Geographic, "Life in the North Atlantic depends on this floating seaweed," 12 June 2019 On the third day, our first landfall was the coral atoll of Ducie, where tropical fish swarmed on underwater reefs while fairy terns picked tidbits of plant matter off the surface of the rolling sea. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Exploring Polynesia's Islands by Cruise," 28 June 2019

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.

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First Known Use of tern

1678, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for tern

of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish terne tern

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Statistics for tern

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Tern.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tern. Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for tern

tern

noun
How to pronounce tern (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tern

: 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

noun
\ ˈtərn How to pronounce tern (audio) \

Kids Definition of tern

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tern

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tern

Spanish Central: Translation of tern

Nglish: Translation of tern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tern

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